The Debate

Forget what's signed? UK threatens to override Brexit divorce deal


From the United Kingdom, home of great drama and great comedy, comes the new season of Brexit. With five weeks to strike a trade deal, the suspense is already building. But critics contend there is nothing funny about the UK government's opening gambit: a bill that of its own admission would "break international law".


It would offer Boris Johnson's government the right to override a divorce deal signed only back in January, one that safeguards Northern Ireland's access to the EU in accordance with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended decades of sectarian conflict. We ask whether this is more than mere posturing and whether even suggesting breaches in what has already been signed will have lasting scars. Also, does it further lessen the chances of a trade deal?

If so, why now? Polls show that British subjects squarely favour a deal and really do not want more uncertainty, what with Covid-19 and the fear of a back-to-school spike in cases. Does the same populist touch that won the prime minister a thumping majority in parliament last December still work when it comes to managing not one but two major crises?

Produced by Alessandro Xenos, Juliette Laurain and Ariana Mozafari.

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