Brexit: Germany's EU minister asks UK to ‘stop the games’ over Internal Market Bill


(Michael Roth, minister of state for Europe, at the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin.)


Germany’s minister of state for Europe, Michael Roth, has appealed to the British government to stop its plans to push through an internal market bill that would mean the country breaking international law.


“Please, dear friends in London, stop the games, time is running out, what we really need is a fair basis for further negotiations and we are ready for that,” Roth said ahead of a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels on Tuesday.


“The so-called internal market bill extremely worries us because it violates the guiding principles of the withdrawal agreement,” Roth said. “And that is totally unacceptable for us.”


EU commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said the EU “will not be renegotiating” the Withdrawal Agreement. He added that the EU sees itself as obligated to "a complete and timely implementation" of the exit treaty.


In particular, it overrides the Northern Ireland protocol, which requires the island of Ireland to follow EU standards in a no-deal Brexit scenario. The bill, they say, threatens the Good Friday Agreement and will seriously damage Britain’s standing on the world stage, as it would mean Britain was breaking international law.


Five former prime ministers have spoken out against the deal. John Major and Tony Blair made a rare joint intervention, writing an opinion piece in the Sunday Times that urged MPs to reject the bill.


However, the bill is facing another vote in the UK parliament on an amendment put forward by Bob Neil, the Conservative chair of the justice sext committee. It would require parliamentary approval before any future decision could be made by the government to disapply the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol in the Withdrawal Agreement.


Meanwhile, on Sunday, The Times reported that some British banks are contacting expats living in the EU, telling them that they will no longer be able to service them after 31 December, as the “passport” system that allowed them to operate everywhere in the EU will no longer exist and banks must face the complex and costly prospect of having to apply for banking licences in individual EU countries.