Attorney General defends controversial powers to override Brexit deal

The government's chief legal advisor has been urged to step down as she defended the controversial Brexit legislation that allows Britain to break international law.

Attorney General Suella Braverman told MPs that it was "perfectly fine, completely constitutional and lawful" to pass laws that may violate international law or contractual obligations.

She also insisted that she was “proud” to support the UK's Single Market Act and suggested that MPs voting against it were unpatriotic.

The law gives the government the power to violate the Brexit divorce agreement brokered with Brussels last year.

Attorney General Suella Braverman answers questions in the House of Commons (PA)

Ministers have argued that such repeal powers are necessary to protect UK-Northern Ireland relations.

Among the critics of the measures is the conservative former Prime Minister Theresa May, who warned that the contested powers are unnecessary and will do "immeasurable damage" to Britain and threaten the future of the Union.

Conservative ex-minister Sir Desmond Swayne spoke in the House of Commons and asked, "So it's not against a law, is it?"

Ms. Braverman replied, “Examination and voting of this law is not in violation of the law.

“However, the draft law contains powers which, if exercised, result in contractual obligations no longer existing at international level – in particular Article 4 of the Withdrawal Agreement and Articles 5 and 10 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

"The supremacy of parliament means that it is entirely constitutional and appropriate for parliament to legislate even when it violates international treaty obligations."

The spokesman for the attorney general of the SNP, Stuart McDonald, accused Ms. Braverman of "her political loyalty to put her Brexit fanaticism above her loyalty to the rule of law when it is the other way around".

SNP MP Stuart McDonald (PA)

Mr. McDonald added, “So she should resign.

"Doesn't this whole episode also illustrate why future attorneys-general should be lawyers, not party politicians?

"It is okay for them to destroy their own reputation, but not the reputation of the attorney general."

Ms. Braverman replied, "It is perfectly right to be fully constitutional and legal in domestic law to make laws that may violate international law or contractual obligations."

"It's a pretty basic principle of law, and if the honorable gentleman is having trouble understanding it, I would love to sit down and explain it to him."

For Labor, Shadow Advocate General Ellie Reeves has previously highlighted criticism from former Prime Ministers, including Ms. May.

Ms. Reeves asked, "Are they all wrong?"

Ms. Braverman replied, “The question of whether the government can legally act in this way is answered very simply – yes it can.

“The question of whether it should be one for political debate, not for legal argument.

"(Ms. Reeves) may not like this answer, but it has a solid legal foundation."

Attorney General Ellie Reeves (PA)

Ms. Reeves countered, “As a lawyer, she knows the role of government officials very well, they must uphold the rule of law without fear or favor.

"And as her own political heroine Margaret Thatcher once said:" In order to be considered a truly free country, we have to permanently respect the rule of law. "

"But there is a universal view among those who turn to the attorney general to defend the rule of law that betrayed them.

"So could she tell the House what she did to defend the rule of law in the face of the government's violation?"

Ms. Braverman said she would take a "less emotional approach" adding: "I am very proud to support this bill.

“It protects our country and protects the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“(Worker leader Sir Keir Starmer) called for patriotism this week, but their opposition to this bill is far from patriotic.

“How to describe herself as a MEP sitting in the UK Parliament while voting against a bill that will defend our country's unity, maintain peace in Northern Ireland and allow the UK, our country and your country to thrive, is not only illogical, but also has a serious effect on the interests of the nation. "

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