Brandon Lewis insisted the legislation will not break international law (Photo: Sky News)
Tory legislation to over-ride parts of the Northern Ireland protocol will not break international law, Brandon Lewis has insisted.
The Northern Ireland secretary said the government’s plans were “lawful and correct”.
His comments came as ministers prepare to finally unveil the draft law which they say is necessary to address concerns raised about the Brexit deal Boris Johnson signed governing trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
The Democratic Unionist Party are angry at customs checks being carried out on goods crossing the Irish Sea, and have refused to enter into a power-sharing Executive at Stormont with Sinn Fein until the protocol is amended.
However, critics have said the government’s plan to unilaterally rip up the Brexit agreement signed with the European Union will break international law.
Asked on Sky News’s ‘Ridge On Sunday’ programme whether that was the case, Lewis said: “The legislation is within the law - what we’re going to do is lawful and it is correct.”
Foreign secretary Liz Truss is expected to unveil the protocol legislation tomorrow.
Lewis said the government will set out the “legal basis” for the new law at the same time.
But he would not confirm that James Eadie, the government’s most senior independent legal adviser, had said it would not break international law.
He said: “When people see the legislation tomorrow they will see that this is working within the law.
“The government lawyers are very clear - we are working within the law.”
But Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “It does look like the Government plans to break international law.
“This Government seems to be developing a record for lawbreaking and it is not one that the Labour Party can support.
“We helped bring in the Good Friday agreement, we are deeply, passionately committed to it.
“We want the Northern Ireland Protocol to work but we know to get it to work we have to negotiate and work with our European partners.”
Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald accused Brandon Lewis of “talking through his hat and not for the first time”.
She said: “The British government has refused to engage, has not been constructive, has sought a destructive path and is proposing to introduce legislation that will undoubtedly break international law.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.