The British prime minister obtained the approval of a law that modifies the terms of the divorce with the EU. But his own troop threatens to annul it.
A “Pyrrho-style” victory and a clear warning from the rebel Conservative MPs against their project to ignore Britain’s divorce agreement with the European Union. That’s what Prime Minister Tory and anti-European Boris Johnson achieved last night, when He managed to pass, in second reading, his internal market law to rewrite Brexit, with a majority of 77 votes.
The important is that 27 Conservative MPs from his own ranks rebelled against his mandate and defied the order to abstain on Monday. Boris won with the votes of the Protestant Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and not with his own troop.
With a formal majority of 80 it was obvious that the Johnson government was ultimately going to prevail in the House of Commons, in its controversial legislation. The novelty is the breadth of the rebellion and its density of it in the conservative ranks. Her own lawmakers Torys have warned her that they will vote against the government and try to amend the legislation next week.
The amendment of Sir Neil, Chairman of the Justice Committee and Conservative, can block legislation, approved in the second reading on Monday. She questions the violation of international law if the European divorce agreement, approved by Parliament, and the protocol obtained so that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is not respected, which endangers the peace achieved in the province after the civil war.
He believes that any change “must be approved by Parliament.” In that parliamentary approval there is “the lock” not to let Boris and his project against Brexit advance.
The names of the rebels should be a red flag for Boris Johnson. Julian Smith and Karen Bradley, two former secretaries from Northern Ireland, abstained from voting in favor of the bill because affects peace in Ireland, when Boris considers that it is more than anything “an insurance policy” against the EU.
Smith was in charge when Johnson signed the revised Northern Ireland protocol and the value of his rebellion is significant.
The former finance minister, Sajid Javid, whom he nominated, refused to vote for him because he does not see the need to violate international law and disregard an agreement already approved by his own government. He was joined by the Brexitier Goeffrey Cox, a former attorney general and one of the drafters of the divorce agreement with Europe, and Jeremy Wright, another former attorney general.
Two other Torys MPs, Sir Roger and Andrew Percy, voted against the law. But more lawmakers will join when the law’s amendments are voted on next week, after it passes through the Committee status, where it is currently.
Among the other 30 who abstained were 8 former cabinet ministers, including education secretary Damian Hinds and former chancellor Sajid Javid.
But above all there was Brexiters. One of them was Rehman Christi, who voted to leave the EU and against the divorce agreement obtained by Theresa May, but resigned as a government envoy to vote against the law on Monday. Ben Spencer, who replaced the former chancellor Philip Hammond when Boris kicked him out of the game, he also abstained.
The real vote and danger for the government was not in the vote on Monday, but they are in Sir Neil’s amendment, which can manage to impose “a parliamentary lock” on the rewriting of Brexit.
The Executive is concerned because amendments may block the application of your internal market law. In a compromise lawmakers don’t believe in, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told them after the vote that the government could allow them to vote for “new powers” to remove the Northern Ireland clause.
Boris could suggest supporting the amendment by Bob Neil, the conservative chairman of the Justice Committee who is leading the rebellion, which requires parliamentary authorization for the measures that the premier wants to impose in replacement of the Brexit agreement to take place.
The drama for Boris and his bill is in the House of Lords. Veterans Brexitiers like Lord Howard and Lord Lamont, plus Michael Heseltine and John Major, find it unacceptable to violate international law and have spoken of its implications.
That’s where you can lose it and Downing St is desperate to get out of the possibility of falling off the cliff.