Brexit: Johnson accuses EU of not negotiating in good faith

British prime minister Boris Johnson has defended his controversial plan to allow ministers to tear up the Brexit divorce deal by suggesting the European Union was being unreasonable and failing to negotiate in good faith.

The prime minister insisted the legislation, which would put the UK in breach of international law by breaking the terms of the treaty signed with Brussels, was a necessary “legal safety net” to protect the relationship between Britain and Northern Ireland.

As he sought to quell a growing Tory revolt over the measures, he claimed that passing the legislation would strengthen the hand of negotiators trying to strike a trade deal with the EU.

In an effort to reassure Conservative MPs, Mr Johnson said the measures contained in the Bill to set aside parts of the Brexit deal were an “insurance policy” that he hoped would “never be invoked” if an agreement was reached with Brussels.

He promised that if it was necessary for the powers to be used, MPs would be given a vote on the regulations.

The Internal Market Bill sets out the way that trade within the UK will work once outside the EU’s single market and customs union.

There will be a vote on the Bill’s principles during its second reading in the House of Commons on Monday night, which is expected to pass given the Conservatives large majority. A result is expected after 10pm.

All the living former prime ministers have voiced concern over the potential breach of international law, while ex-attorney general Geoffrey Cox and former chancellor Sajid Javid have added to high-profile Conservative criticism of the measure.

‘Extreme and unreasonable lengths’

Mr Johnson, taking the unusual step of opening the debate on the legislation in the House of Commons, accused the EU of going to “extreme and unreasonable lengths” over the Northern Ireland protocol which he said could lead to “blockading food and agriculture transports within our own country”.