EU Considering Next Move Over U.K.’s Lawbreaking Brexit Bill


The European Union held off launching legal action immediately against the U.K. over Boris Johnson’s plan to rewrite parts of the Brexit divorce deal, saying it is still considering its next move.

The bloc had given the U.K. until Oct. 31 to respond to its demand to withdraw parts of the Internal Market Bill that breach the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Johnson struck with the EU last year. A Downing Street spokesman said on Tuesday the U.K. hadn’t replied to the request.

The bloc is now deciding whether to issue a “reasoned opinion,” European Commission spokesman Daniel Ferrie told reporters in Brussels. That would indicate the bloc has concluded that the U.K. broke the law and would give the British a last chance to comply before the matter went to court.

The legislation had threatened to sour relations between the U.K. and EU and put a trade deal between the two sides in jeopardy. But with talks over an accord progressing, people close to both sides of the negotiations have played down the threat. Each party sees the importance of securing a trade deal and, while the EU takes a breach seriously, officials in Brussels have welcomed the British government’s attempt to defuse the situation.

The two sides are working to resolve their differences, particularly over Northern Ireland, in a joint committee on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

“We are committed to working through the joint committee process to find a satisfactory outcome for both sides,” Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, told reporters on Tuesday. “That is our overriding priority.”

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