HomeWithdrawal Agreement and Internal Market Bill
In November 2019, the UK government and the European Union agreed on an international treaty that partly governs their future relationship after Brexit. It has been called the Withdrawal Agreement (“the Withdrawal Agreement”). It entered into force on 1 February 2020. It should promote an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU. It provided for a transitional period for the parties to agree on the terms of a separate set of agreements governing their future relationship. The transitional period expires on 31 December. But the Withdrawal Agreement also set out the minimum conditions that would apply in the absence of an agreement on this future relationship. So there were “safety net” provisions. These covered a wide range of issues, ranging from the rights of EU citizens to free movement, the protection of intellectual property, rules on goods already in free circulation between the two territories, and ongoing police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
In December, after several defeats in the House of Lords, the British government agreed to greater flexibility in the bill, so that sometimes some divergence could be agreed between the British government and the devolved administrations.  The Act received Royal Assent on December 17. UCL`s constitutional unit described the votes as two of the Lords` three biggest defeats since the 1999 House reform. The third was at second reading of the bill on September 19. October 2020, when the Lords voted by a majority of 226 votes to express their regret that “Part 5 of the Bill contains provisions that, if passed, would undermine the rule of law and damage the reputation of the United Kingdom”. The vote in favour of removing Section 42 was the largest in terms of voter turnout since the introduction of remote voting among the Lords and the third largest since house reform in 1999. Three Conservative MPs rebelled in the votes, including Simon Hoare, chairman of the Special Committee for Northern Ireland. Among the MPs who abstained – and who are known to have already expressed concerns about the bill – were former Prime Minister Theresa May, former Attorneys General Geoffrey Cox and Jeremy Wright and former Northern Ireland ministers Julian Smith and Karen Bradley, as well as the chairman of the Special Committee on Foreign Affairs, Tom Tugendhat. Article 46 (originally clause 40) provides that, in the exercise of a function relating to the Protocol or trade in goods within the United Kingdom, ministers of the decentralised government and all others performing a function of a public nature, the place of Northern Ireland in the internal market and customs territory of the United Kingdom and the need for free movement of goods between Great Britain and Great Britain and the Customs Territory of the United Kingdom. United Kingdom Northern Ireland needs special attention. In October 2019, Article 6 of the Protocol on Northern Ireland contained in the Withdrawal Agreement contains a reference to the concept of the United Kingdom`s internal market the Protocol will enter fully into force on 31 December 2020 (the end of the “transition period”), subject to any amendment to an agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom.
Similarly, Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (unaffiliated), a former leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, said she supported the removal of the clauses from the bill because they were “difficult, challenging and undermining the principles of healing, reconciliation and partnership that we were able to achieve through the Belfast Good Friday Agreement”. However, she said she shared the concerns of her union colleagues about friction over goods travelling from Britain to Northern Ireland. The UK government`s statement added: “Good progress continues to be made in deciding which goods are `at risk` of entering the EU market. Talks will continue this afternoon. In light of these discussions, the government will review the content of the next tax law. However, if they do not reach an agreement by the end of the transition period, on 31 December 2020, and there is no free trade agreement, parts of this new legislative proposal could come into play. On 20 October 2020, as it proceeded to second reading of the Bill, the House of Lords voted by 395 votes to 169 to regret “that Part 5 of the Bill contains provisions which, if they had entered into force, would undermine the rule of law and damage the reputation of the United Kingdom”, an amendment tabled by Lord Judge, the former Lord Chief Justice, was proposed.  The vote on this amendment was the biggest defeat (a margin of 226) for the government in the Lords since 1999.  Among the Conservative Lords who voted against the government was the recently resigned Advocate General for Scotland, Lord Keen; Theresa May`s former chief of staff, Gavin Barwell; former party leader Michael Howard; former Chancellors of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke and Norman Lamont; and former European Commissioner Christopher Tugendhat. .