Live: Former Attorney General looks set to defy the Government and lead backbench rebellion against the Internal Market Bill

Live updates on the second reading of the controversial Internal Market Bill.

18:15

The Prime Minister told MPs in the Commons that “the EU has suggested it is willing to go to extreme and unreasonable lengths, using the Northern Ireland protocol in a way that goes well beyond common sense to export their leverage against the UK”.

Boris Johnson added that: “we cannot have a situation where the very boundaries of our country could be dictated by a foreign power or international organisation”.

However, former Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, stood in for Keir Starmer and told the PM that he would be “trashing the reputation of this country and the reputation of his office”.

Part of the research by Gower Street Journal has also been used and credited by The Critic Magazine.

The magazine now reports that the 15th member of the ‘Internal Dissent’ brigade is the Vice Chair of the 1922 Committee, Charles Walker.

Walker told the World at One last Wednesday that: “I doubt we are going to get to the stage when we are asked to put the UK in breach of international… I just wouldn’t vote for it”.

Nonetheless, the recently appointed leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, did state that he will support the Internal Market Bill.

16:25

Former Chancellor, Sajid Javid, adds his name to the rebels list.

In a statement on Twitter, Javid said: “I cannot support the UK pre-emptively reneging on that agreement.”

Javid went on to urge the Government to make amendments to the bill before the third reading.

16:10

Jack Lopresti joins Geoffrey Cox in abstaining from the second reading of the Internal Market Bill.

The Brexiteer, who represents Filton and Bradley Stoke, previously voted for a WTO departure in the first round of indicative votes in 2019.

Lopresti’s decision puts him at odds with his wife Andrea Jenkyns, the MP for Morley and Outwood, who has already come out as a supporter of the bill.

This places those in favour of the bill at 177 and increases those against to 15.

The surge in Twitter posts by MPs who are in favour of the bill would suggest that Number 10 is slightly concerned that they do not have the numbers.

In our more speculative estimates, the government’s backing has fallen by 2 to 247, while those against the bill are almost at the estimates that the Telegraph have suggested on 19.

13:05

Known opponents and critics of the Internal Market Bill rise to 14.

Rehman Chisti has announced that he will resign from his position as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy of Religion or Belief little over a year since he was appointed to the position, on the basis that he cannot support the Internal Market Bill.

The MP for Gillingham and Rainham voted to leave the European Union in 2016 and since then joined the pressure group StandUp4Brexit to continue to push the government to depart from Brussels-based membership.

George Freeman, who previously served as a junior minister in the transport department, has also moved from being a critic of the bill to an outright opponent.

Freeman justified his decision when he Tweeted that “our democracy and global standing rests on UK Ministers not breaking the law and keeping our word.”

11:08 Monday 14 September

Boris Johnson has cancelled a scheduled event this morning in order to return to Westminster to solve “urgent parliamentary business”, says Paul Brand of ITV.

The decision taken by Number 10 may suggest that the initial confidence they had in the passage of the Internal Market Bill have eroded.

This comes after Kit Malthouse, minister for crime and policing, told The Today programme that the proposed legislation was a way to solve the Brexit “conundrum”.

Signatory of the Sir Bob Neill amendment tells Pi Media that: “It is vital to uphold the rule of law. Bob Neil’s amendment gives the government the opportunity to conclude negotiations with the EU before an irrevocable breach of international law.”

Heald added: “This amendment provides a parliamentary lock so that Parliament can decide”.

09:12 – Monday 14 September

Former Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC, has told Tom Newton Dunn on The Times’ new radio station that: “It is wrong for the British Government to renege on something to which we have given our solemn word.

Cox added: “I strongly sympathise with the desire of the Government. But what I don’t think it can do is to break the law”.

Cox opened Boris Johnson’s leadership bid in July 2019 and was rewarded by retaining his place in Johnson’s Cabinet. However, Cox was sacked in the February reshuffle with some speculation that the Prime Minister had not yet forgiven him for his ill-judged decision to declare the prorogation of parliament as lawful.

The MP for Torridge and West Devon campaigned to leave the European Union in 2016 and therefore joins the former Conservative Party leader, Lord Michael Howard, and former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Norman Lamont as the Government’s pro-Brexit critics.

Nonetheless, the core of those opposed to the Government’s proposals not only voted to remain in 2016 but was also the thorn in the side of Boris Johnson’s plans last year.

Leading the charge against the Government in the so-called Tory grandee rebellion is Sir Bob Neill. His amendment would establish a parliamentary lock and require the consent of parliament for the Government to utilise the powers that the bill would grant it.

Recently former Defence Secretary, Tobias Ellwood, stated that he cannot support the bill unamended and added that in the coming weeks he wanted to “see more British statecraft-less Nixonian Madman Theory”.

The Times revealed that up to thirty Conservatives might vote against the Government.

Outside of the Commons, David Cameron has joined John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Theresa May in criticising the “misgivings” of the bill.

While hardline Eurosceptics have voiced concerns over the Government’s implementation of draconian measures to counteract the spread of the coronavirus, they are not expected to pose a problem to the Prime Minister in this Brexit bill. 

Members of the European Research Group, including Steve Baker and Andrea Jenkyns, have declared their support for the Internal Market Bill on Twitter.

The Eurosceptics in the Ulster-based Democratic Unionist Party have also given the Government their support; however, they have bolted on two additional amendments to the bill.

Their Brexit spokesperson, Sammy Wilson, said that the bill was a “step forward” for businesses in Northern Ireland but was “not the finished product”. 

The amendments tabled by Wilson and his colleagues include one that would ensure that the UK would have control on state aid in the province after the expiration of the transition period.  

Detailed research by the Gower Street Journal has found that of 185 Conservative MPs, 174 have opted to display some form of support for the Government’s bill and just 11 have been critical or voiced outright opposition.

Those on the government payroll are included in those supporting the bill as they are bound by collective responsibility and not one member of the Government, from cabinet minister to junior minister, have resigned or voiced the possibility that they may abstain from the second reading later today.

Fortunately, for the Government, the composition of the Conservative Party in Westminster is markedly different today to what it was a year ago.

Last September, only 138 Tory MPs voted to leave the European Union and while Geoffrey Cox and Charles Walker are among those concerned about the breach in international law the fact that there are now 225 Brexiteer Conservatives does bode well for Boris Johnson.

When factoring in members of the ERG, those who supported no deal during the first round of indicative votes and the four MPs that defied Johnson’s orders last September in a bid to limit the Government’s power to leave the EU on WTO terms, the total grew to 249 in favour and 14 against.

Nevertheless, with a quarter of Conservative MPs unaccounted for it remains unclear whether or not the Government will have the numbers to pass the controversial Internal Market Bill.

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