A deal is reached between Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic on the Brexit legislation
The government is set to drop parts of legislation that could have potentially seen the UK breaking international law after reaching an “agreement in principle” on Brexit divorce issues.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said he was “delighted” to have reached an agreement, including on post-Brexit arrangements for the Irish border, following talks with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic.
As a result, the government said it would withdraw the most controversial parts of its Internal Market Bill.
The proposed legislation had seen the EU launch legal action against the UK as part of a bitter row.
The government also promised not to introduce any similar measures in its Taxation Bill, which is due to be debated by MPs in the House of Commons later on Tuesday.
This comes after the UK government was set to go ahead with the Brexit legislation that could potentially break international law, despite fears that this could upset the EU at a critical time for post-Brexit trade talks.
Mr Gove and Mr Sefcovic are co-chairs of the EU-UK Joint Committee, which oversees the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement – the divorce deal Britain agreed with the bloc last year – and the accompanying Northern Ireland Protocol for post-Brexit border arrangements on the island of Ireland.
Their discussions are separate from the ongoing negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal, which are still deadlocked ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are due to meet in Brussels “in the coming days” in a bid to try and break the impasse on a EU-UK trade agreement.
The agreement between Mr Gove and Mr Sefcovic could help ease tensions between London and Brussels as trade negotiations go down to the wire.
An EU-UK statement announcing the Joint Committee agreement said:
“Following intensive and constructive work over the past weeks by the EU and the UK, the two co-chairs can now announce their agreement in principle on all issues, in particular with regard to the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
“An agreement in principle has been found in the following areas, amongst others: border control posts/entry points specifically for checks on animals, plants and derived products, export declarations, the supply of medicines, the supply of chilled meats, and other food products to supermarkets, and a clarification on the application of State aid under the terms of the Protocol.”
This comes after a 90-year-old grandmother-of-four became the first patient in the world to receive Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccination outside of a trial. Mrs Keenan, who lives in Coventry but is originally from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, was given the vaccine by nurse May Parsons at Coventry’s University Hospital.
The two sides have also reached an agreement on how goods will be considered “not at risk” of entering the EU when moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, as well as on parts of state aid rules and the make-up of an arbitration panel for settling disputes after the Brexit transition period ends.
The statement added: “In view of these mutually agreed solutions, the UK will withdraw clauses 44, 45 and 47 of the UK Internal Market Bill, and not introduce any similar provisions in the Taxation Bill.”
The agreement in principle and draft texts are subject to final approval from both sides, before being formally adopted.
The government’s publication of the Internal Market Bill earlier this year brought condemnation from critics both in Westminster and across European capitals.