Boris Johnson’s lawbreaking Brexit bill has passed its first Commons hurdle despite a backlash from his own MPs and senior Tories.
The UK Internal Market bill passed its second ready by 340 to 263 – a majority of 77, indicating some of Mr Johnson’s own MPs abstained.
MPs will begin detailed line-by-line scrutiny of the Bill on Tuesday, with votes expected next week on amendments to the Northern Ireland provisions which some Tories may back.
The Prime Minister claimed the EU had “not taken the revolver off the table” and that Brussels was being unreasonable and failing to negotiate in good faith.
He said the Internal Markets Bill – which would break international law – was a necessary “safety net” and could strengthen the UK’s hand in trade talks.
In a shameless attempt to quell the growing Tory revolt he claimed his controversial changes were an “insurance policy” that would never be used if a trade deal was struck.
He even promised to give MPs a vote if the powers had to be invoked – but only after it had come into force.
But his former chancellor said that breaking international law was “a step that should never be taken lightly” and it was “not clear” why it was necessary to do so.
Mr Javid added: “I am regretfully unable to support the UK Internal Market bill unamended.”
It came as David Cameron became the fifth former PM to condemn Mr Johnson’s plans to override the Brexit withdrawal agreement signed with the EU last year.
The former PM said he had “misgivings” about the plan, adding: “Passing an act of parliament and then going on to break an international treaty obligation is the very, very last thing you should contemplate.
“It should be an absolute final resort. So I do have misgivings about what is being proposed.”
Mr Johnson was expected to win last night’s vote but Tory whips were keeping a close eye on the number of their MPs that abstained.
More Tory grandees are expected to join the rebellion ahead of a showdown Commons vote next Tuesday.
Tory MP Jeremy Wright also criticised the plans meaning every Tory attorney general since 2010 – including Dominic Grieve and Geoffrey Cox – is against.
He said: “This is far from just another day in Parliament and I, along with many others, are profoundly disturbed by what’s going on.”
The PM’s religion envoy, Rehman Christi, a former barrister, quit saying the Internal Markets bill would be “contrary to the values I hold dearest”.
Labour ’s Ed Miliband blasted: “I never thought respecting international law would in my lifetime be a matter of disagreement.
“He is trashing the reputation of this country and he is trashing the reputation of his office.”
Mr Johnson, looking furious as he sat on the front bench.
His claims that Brussels had not acted ‘in good faith’ in talks were undermined after senior Tory MPs on the Northern Ireland select committee said it had.