The Brexit divorce deal has ambiguities due to its being written “at pace”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said on Wednesday, claiming it was expected that details on Northern Ireland would be hammered out later.
“The Withdrawal Agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol aren’t like any other treaty,” the spokesman said. “It was agreed at pace in the most challenging possible political circumstances.”
The document was intended to deliver “on a clear political decision by the British people, with the clear overriding purpose of protecting the special circumstances of Northern Ireland.”
Besides ambiguities, there is a lack of clarity in key areas, he added. “It was written on the assumption that subsequent agreements to clarify these aspects could be reached between us and the EU.”
Johnson has come under fire over the withdrawal agreement on a number of fronts, including that it was rushed through Parliament too quickly, while for some Brexit supporters it doesn’t go far enough in distancing the UK from the EU. Westminster is now introducing legislation that overrides parts of the agreement, with the government acknowledging it breaches international law in doing so.
Former UK PM John Major criticized the government’s move on Wednesday, arguing that “If we lose our reputation for honoring the promises we make, we will have lost something beyond price that may never be regained.”
Officials in Ireland and in Brussels responded with dismay to the proposed legislation, and warned that it could snuff out hopes for a post-Brexit trade pact. They made it clear, however, that the EU would not walk away from talks to avoid a ‘no-deal’ at the year’s end.
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