Boris Johnson’s controversial Brexit legislation, which allows Britain to break international law, has been clarified by the House of Commons.
MEPs voted in favor of the UK’s Single Market Act by 340 votes to 256, 84 votes in third reading, despite warning that the offending legislation threatens the Union and the country’s global reputation.
Ministers have defended the powers contained in the legislation, which gives them the option to override the Brexit divorce deal.
They argue that such powers are needed to protect UK-Northern Ireland relations amid concerns at Westminster that Brussels may attempt to disrupt food traveling from the UK to Northern Ireland in trade talks.
The government was forced to compromise in the face of a Tory backbench rebellion, which resulted in changes to give MPs a voice before ministers could use the powers that would violate the withdrawal agreement brokered with Brussels last year .
The bill also includes powers that allow Westminster to provide financial assistance for economic development, infrastructure, cultural activities and educational purposes across the country.
Opposition MPs have warned that this will give the UK government an opportunity to delve into issues that are set in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and label them an “attack” on decentralization.
According to the division list, no Conservative MPs rebelled against the third reading bill.
A total of 21 were listed as not eligible to vote, but this does not necessarily mean an abstention and their absence could be for several reasons.
Those who didn’t get a vote included former Prime Minister Theresa May and former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Jeremy Wright, all of whom raised concerns about the law.
At the third reading, Economic Secretary Alok Sharma told MPs: “Our approach will give companies the regulatory clarity and security they want.
“It will ensure that the cost of doing business in the UK stays as low as possible without damaging and costly regulatory barriers between different parts of the UK.”
Mr Sharma accused SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford of “wanting to be forever chained to the European Union” to which Mr Blackford replied: “You are talking nonsense.”
Regarding the controversial elements of the Single Market Act that allow the UK to override the readmission agreement, Sharma said: “The reason we have taken powers to make sure that in case we go with our EU friends Don’t reach an agreement on implementation, reach an agreement With the (Northern Ireland Protocol) we can keep our promises in our manifesto and in the command paper.
“This is a legal safety net that illustrates our position on the Northern Ireland Protocol to protect our union, companies and jobs.”
Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said Labor supports the single market principle but opposes the law that violates law.
He told Commons: “On this side we have a strong belief in our union on decentralization, but the strength of our union comes from sharing power without centralizing it, and this bill does not learn that lesson.
“It makes the decision to impose the rule that the lowest standard of regulation in a parliament must be the standard for all without an adequate voice for the decentralized administrations.”
Mr Miliband said he feared the bill “will strengthen the hand of those who want to dissolve Britain”.
He also said, “Under international law, no one should have any doubts about the damage this bill has already done.
“This violation of the law has been noticed all over the world.”
Mr. Miliband highlighted the reservations of US President Donald Trump’s Northern Irish envoy Mick Mulvaney, adding: “If the Trump administration raises concerns about your compliance with international agreements and the rule of law, you know you are in trouble .
“That’s how bad this bill is.”
Early in the debate, SNP MP Mhairi Black (Paisley and Renfrewshire South) also said: “This bill gives every Crown Minister express permission to wage a riot with the Scottish assets that our Scottish Parliament has protected.”
Independence, she said, “is the only option for Scotland,” adding, “This is a union that dominates England. The only reason there is no English Parliament is because the people of Westminster think of this place as English Look at Parliament and we cannot afford to be naive. The only way to protect our Parliament is to become independent. “
She added, “It took us 300 years to reach our Scottish Parliament and 20 years for this place to bulldozer through this place.”
The bill will be subject to further scrutiny in the Lords at a later date.