The government’s promise to abandon clauses in the Internal Market Bill that would have put the UK in breach of international law was today welcomed by the Law Society. 'The rule of law underpins our country and our democracy,' said Society president David Greene. 'Proposing to breach an agreement just entered into, breaking international law, even if in a "specific and limited way" was shocking so we welcome this eleventh hour change of heart.'
In an apparent bid to break the deadlock in negotiations for a trading arrangement, the government confirmed today that it will withdraw clauses 44, 45 and 47 of the UK Internal Market Bill, currently before the House of Commons, and not introduce any similar provisions in the Taxation Bill. In September, the government’s admission that the clauses would allow it to break an international agreement prompted outrage in the legal profession.
Today’s announcement followed news that a deal had been agreed on the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol, part of Britain’s withdrawal treaty, to govern future trade between mainland Britain and the region.
'Had this step not been taken the reputation of the jurisdiction would have suffered greatly,' Greene said. 'Going on from this I hope we will still be respected as a country which prides itself on upholding the rule of law.'
Amanda Pinto QC, chair of the Bar Council, said that the government's U-turn hould not have been necessary. 'We are disappointed that the initiative was ever adopted, but this course of action should demonstrate to all – including our potential trade partners – that Britain holds itself to the rule of law. We hope that any damage to our reputation and global position that may already have been done, is limited. I am confident that our country’s long-standing support for the rule of law will remain a core strength of the UK and that we can be a credible voice on the international stage.'