Advocate General for Scotland Richard Keen has resigned from British government amid the ongoing row over PM Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans that could breach international laws and the EU divorce treaty.
The resignation followed reports by British media that Keen had found it increasingly difficult to reconcile with Johnson’s plan to ‘tweak’ the Brexit deal with a new law.
“Lord Keen has resigned as Advocate General for Scotland. The Prime Minister thanks him for his service,” the Downing Street said in a statement on Wednesday.
The controversial legislation, known as the Internal Market Bill was unveiled last week, with the top UK officials admitting that it could violate the international laws in a “limited” way. The revelation sparked a major international scandal, with the EU, Ireland and other players rushing to condemn London’s move. Brussels demanded Johnson to scrap the bill, warning it might jeopardize the talks on future trade arrangements between the bloc and the UK.
“With every day that passes, the chances of a timely agreement do start to fade,” she warned in a speech to the European Parliament. The divorce agreement “cannot be unilaterally changed, disregarded or dis-applied,” President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday. “This is a matter of law, trust and good faith… Trust is the foundation of any strong partnership.”
Britain remains a part of the EU’s single market during the post-Brexit transition period set to end at the end of this year, and the ongoing scandal increases the risks of the whole deal with the EU falling apart. Still, Johnson refused to shelve the legislation.
“This bill is intended to uphold the economic, the political, territorial integrity of the UK,” Johnson told parliament. Earlier, he said the legislation was needed to counter “absurd” threats from Brussels that emerge during the trade talks.
Apart from the international pressure, the government faced domestic dissent over the bill as well. Shortly after the legislation was unveiled, the head of the UK government’s legal department Jonathan Jones resigned from his post without explaining his motives. Media reports, however, suggested he was “very unhappy” with Johnson’s decision to override parts of the EU divorce agreement which become the last drop for him following months of tensions with other top officials over handling of the turbulent Brexit negotiations.
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