BORIS Johnson’s ex-attorney general Geoffrey Cox has blasted the PM’s controversial new Brexit bill as “unconscionable”.
Mr Cox slammed the PM for threatening to damage Britain’s “standing and reputation” on the world stage if he pushes through a law overruling key clauses of the original Brexit deal.
⚠️ Read our Brexit live blog for the latest news & updates
Writing in The Times, Mr Cox said: “No British minister should solemnly undertake to observe treaty obligations with his fingers crossed behind his back.
Mr Cox, who oversaw the inking of the original Brexit deal, demanded Mr Johnson “accept all the ordinary and foreseeable consequences” of that agreement, and said he would not vote for the bill.
The controversial law, which will be voted on in the House of Commons today, overrides parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which prevented a hard border.
No10 has insisted the legislation is only intended as a safety net in case the transition period with the EU ends on December 31 without a deal.
Mr Cox said: “It is unconscionable that this country, justly famous for its regard for the rule of law around the world, should act in such a way.”
More than a dozen Tory MPs had been waiting Mr Cox’s opinion before deciding how to vote on the bill, according to The Times
The ex-attorney general and Brexit supporter also slammed badly-behaved EU bosses for using the Northern Ireland protocol as a “lever” for negotiations.
But, he warned: “What ministers should not do, however provoked or frustrated they may feel, is to take or use powers permanently and unilaterally to rewrite portions of an agreement into which this country freely entered just a few months ago.”
David Cameron this morning joined four other ex-PMs to express “grave concern” over the new Brexit bill.
He told Sky News: “Passing an act of parliament and then going on to breaking an international treaty obligation is the very, very last thing, you should contemplate.
“It should be an absolute final resort. I do have misgivings about whats being proposed.
But the ex-PM’s condemnation of the bill was much more tempered than Tony Blair and Sir John Major who called the law “shameful”.
Mr Cameron said: “What I should say is the Government has proposed a law which it might pass or it might not pass, it might use or might not use depending on whether a certain set of circumstances do or do not appear.
“Of course the bigger picture here is we are in a vital negotiation with the European Union to get a deal and I think we have to keep that big prize in mind.”
The draft law has brought on an almighty stand-off between the PM and EU bosses, who have demanded he withdraw it before they consider negotiating a deal.
But Michael Gove last week insisted the Government would not succumb to pressure from the EU.
Mr Johnson has given negotiators until October 15 to come up with an agreement and said the UK will “prosper mightily” with or without a trade deal.
Policing minister Kit Malthouse attempted to mount a defence of the bill this morning, saying it was necessary to prevent “a situation where GB cannot supply food into Northern Ireland”.
He told BBC Radio 4: “I would ask for a solution to that conundrum. If we get to a situation where we are not recognised as a third country and it therefore becomes illegal to move food to Northern Ireland, what is the UK prime minister supposed to do?”