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UK MPs back Brexit bill despite warnings it breaches international law

LONDON : British lawmakers on Monday backed a new bill that would override parts of the Brexit treaty struck with the European Union last year, despite outrage in Brussels and alarm at home over such an overt breach of international law.

Members of Parliament (MPs) in the House of Commons gave their initial approval to the UK Internal Market Bill by 340 votes to 263, clearing the way for four days of detailed scrutiny of the text this week and next.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier argued the legislation was a "safety net" against what he claimed were EU threats to impose tariffs on UK internal trade and even stop food going from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland.

But EU leaders have dismissed this as "spin" and warned Mr Johnson to uphold commitments he himself made in the Brexit treaty last year - demanding he withdraw the offending parts of the new bill by the end of the month.

Several of Mr Johnson's own Conservative MPs expressed alarm about breaking international law, with ex-finance minister Sajid Javid and former attorney general Geoffrey Cox among those saying they would not back the bill as it stood.

Every living former prime minister - Conservatives John Major, David Cameron and Theresa May and Labour's Tony Blair and Gordon Brown - also warned of the risk to Britain's global reputation. - AFP

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