Boris braced for furious Brexit rebellion as Brexiteer Lord warns of Upper House revolt

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Boris Johnson has received a lot of criticism after launching his controversial plans to override key elements of the withdrawal agreement. At a stormy meeting in London on Thursday, the Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove insisted the Government “could not and would not” drop measures in legislation tabled earlier this week. But former Conservative leader Lord Howard of Lympne has said it is “damaging” to the Government’s reputation.

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Speaking to Sky News, Lord Howard said: “It is against the law and there’s no getting away from that.

“That is what the Government has said.

“I’m afraid I think it’s very damaging to our international reputation.

“The damage I think can be mitigated if the Government thinks again and reconsiders its position.

“It doesn’t look like it’s going to do that but that would be one way to limit the damage.

“I’m sorry to say I think it is very damaging.”

He added: “I would be surprised if it gets through the House of Lords.

“I’m sure many of my conservative colleagues will join me in opposing it and of course the Conservative Party in the House of Lords doesn’t have a majority anyway.

“I would be very surprised if it gets through.”

Despite the tensions, Britain’s negotiator Lord Frost said there had been “useful exchanges” and talks would resume next week in Brussels, although he warned that there were still “a number of challenging areas”.

The former Chancellor Lord Lamont said the Government was in a “terrible mess” and warned the UK Internal Market Bill would not get through the Lords in its present form.

In the Commons, senior Conservatives are tabling an amendment to the Bill which they said would limit the powers it gave to ministers in relation to the withdrawal agreement.

Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the Government’s approach as “a huge act of self-harm”.

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But Brexiteer Tory former minister Steve Baker told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think we should now be willing to repudiate the whole treaty on the basis of the EU’s bad faith. Which in my mind is undoubted.”

The row erupted as the latest round of trade talks – also taking place in London – ended on Thursday with both sides acknowledging that “significant differences” remain.

Mr Johnson has set a deadline of October 15 for an agreement to be reached, otherwise he has said he will simply walk away from the negotiating table.

However Mr Sefcovic said the UK side needed now to rebuild trust which had been “seriously damaged” by the events of the past days.

He said the provisions in the Bill relating to the withdrawal agreement had to be dropped by the end of September and that the EU would “not be shy” about taking legal action if the Government refused.

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