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UK Government Gives Initial Clearance to Johnson's Internal Market Bill

The British government has given initial clearance to a proposal by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that would roll back parts of London's commitments to the European Union made in January.

The Internal Market Bill passed the House of Commons on Monday by a majority of 77 MPs, with 340 supporting to 263 opposing. Several senior members of Johnson's Conservative Party notably abstained from the vote, claiming the measure would break international law.

Introduced last week, the bill would override parts of the withdrawal agreement the UK made with the European Union that pertain to Northern Ireland, a part of the island of Ireland that remains in the UK. The rest of the island is the Republic of Ireland, and while the UK remained in the trading bloc, the border between the two countries was free and porous.

While the bill does not impose or bar trade restrictions, it would give British ministers the power to modify or "disapply" any new trade measures that might be put into place in January 2021. However, Johnson noted that if a new trade deal is signed with Brussels, then the most extreme and controversial parts of the bill will never need to be invoked.

Michael Gove, one of Johnson's senior cabinet ministers, urged prior to the vote that the EU had not always been fair in its negotiations with the UK, such as the issue of fishing rights, in which Brussels wanted to fish in British waters as if the UK was still a member state.

"The EU has not always been the constructive partner that all of us might have hoped," Gove said, according to Reuters. "We were told that we would get a Canada deal. That's not on the table."
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