Voting through of Brexit bill was 'shocking' says Simon Coveney

 Simon Coveney has warned against 'playing politics' with Northern Ireland's peace process over Brexit.
Cate MCurry, Press Association

Simon Coveney described the decision by the British Government to vote through controversial legislation designed to override key elements of the Brexit deal as "pretty shocking".

The Foreign Affairs Minister said the "deliberate strategy" of the British Government damages its reputation internationally.

The UK Internal Market Bill cleared its first Commons hurdle last night despite deep misgivings by some senior Tories. Read more

Boris Johnson's controversial plan to use domestic law to supersede elements of the Withdrawal Agreement he signed with Brussels passed its second reading by 340 to 263 - a government majority of 77.

Mr Coveney said the "unwelcome distraction" has eroded trust on both sides of the negotiating teams in the search for a trade deal.

"For many people it's pretty shocking that the British Government is voting through its parliament a Bill that breaks international law," Mr Coveney said.

"I don't ever remember a time that has happened before.

"Let's wait and see what happens to this Bill because I think there is certainly an awful lot of division within Westminster as to whether it is acceptable or not to do that.

"We only saw the first round of debate on that yesterday and the first vote.

"We need to ensure that we don't obsess with what is happening in the House of Commons and instead we need to focus on how we can rebuild some trust in the relationship between the EU and the UK in a way that actually can provide, through negotiations, solutions to outstanding issues that concern both sides.

"The big prize here is to get a deal on a future relationship, particularly on a trade agreement, that avoids tariffs and quotas being implemented on trade crossing the Irish sea which is worth about 80 billion euros a year."

He criticised the move by the British Government and its impact on the trade talks.

Mr Coveney said the talks have been made more complex, adding it has been a deliberate strategy of the British Government.

"The big challenge for politicians involved in this process is can we resolve issues that effectively make this legislation irrelevant so we can focus on agreeing a partnership that the UK can accept and EU can accept," he added.

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