As we reported yesterday, Boris Johnson told the Commons on Monday that, in the event of the so-called safeguard provisions that are contained in the UK Internal Market Bill being triggered, “Ministers would return to this House with a statutory instrument on which a vote…would be held”.
This was one of the five proposals made by Geoffrey Cox, but it doesn’t satisfy all those who are unhappy with the measures.
The statutory instrument would presumably be considered under the affirmative rather than the negative procedure but, even so, it would be debated after the provisions came into effect, not before – and proceedings would be relatively brief.
The clauses of the Bill that propose the provisions won’t be debated until next week, so much could change during the days ahead. But as we write, a compromise is taking shape.
The backing-off from Brandon Lewis’ statement of last week by the Government has gathered pace, with Priti Patel denying yesterday that the measures would break the law at all. Meanwhile, most of those who abstained on Monday are also in a mood for compromise.
Essentially, they agree with Cox that the UK should be able to implement “temporary and proportionate measures” to protect “the fundamental interests of the UK” if necessary.
These would arguably be lawful; certainly not indisputably unlawful. An agreement between Johnson and the rebels would bring a double gain for the Government. First, it would reduce opposition to the Bill, thus sending the Lords a clear signal that they shouldn’t hold it up. Second, it would also send one to the Courts about the will of Parliament.
So it looks as though we are roughly in the territory suggested by this site on Monday – if not Government acceptance of Bob Neill’s amendment, then its support for something very like it.