Lord Keane, the UK government’s legal officer for Scotland, has tendered his resignation to the Prime Minister.
The BBC Scotland understands that it will be difficult for the Advocate General to rectify plans to circumvent the Brexit withdrawal agreement with the law.
Downing Street has not yet accepted Lord Keane’s resignation.
BBC Scotland Chief Political Correspondent Glenn Campbell said there appeared to be an attempt to persuade the law officer to remain in the post.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs on Wednesday afternoon that “talks on the issue are still ongoing”.
The Government’s Most Senior Advocate – Sir Jonathan Jones, Permanent Secretary to the Government Legal Department – Already resigned to the law, Which passed the first parliamentary examination on Monday.
- The PM’s Brexit bill removes the first hurdle in the Commons
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis The series focuses on the UK Government’s Internal Markets Bill MPs said it could “violate international law” By overcoming the withdrawal agreement signed with the EU.
Lord Keane later argued in the House of Lords that “this bill does not violate international law or the rule of law”.
He said Mr. Lewis “must have answered the wrong question”.
But the Northern Ireland secretary has since doubled down, saying his statement was “a very simple answer” and “perfectly consistent” with legal advice.
The BBC’s political editor Laura Queensberg said there had been rumors about Lord Keane’s resignation for days, and that he had finally submitted “this morning after Brandon Lewis was against him”.
The Prime Minister said discussions on the matter were ongoing when he appeared before the Commons Liaison Committee on Wednesday afternoon.
The BBC understands Mr. Johnson The Tories have already made a deal with the rebels On the law giving MPs an “extra layer of parliamentary oversight”.
Richard Keane was chairman of the Scottish Conservatives until his appointment as Advocate General in 2015 – replacing Eli’s Baron Keane as Life Peer.
The QC has represented the UK government in a number of high-profile cases, including the banning of Parliament in 2019 and the “Article 50” Brexit case in 2016-17.
As a legal officer in the UK government, Lord Keane has defended plans to empower ministers to change the withdrawal agreement, in which case both parties cannot accept the trade agreement.
He argued that this part of the UK Internal Market Bill would create tension with the UK’s international obligations, which was unprecedented and that domestic law should prevail.
The trouble is that Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has already said that overriding the Brexit divorce agreement would break international law “in a very specific and limited way” and rejected Lord Keane’s suggestion that he would answer incorrectly.
Lord Keane found it very difficult to reconcile government plans with the law and wrote a letter to the Prime Minister on Wednesday morning offering his resignation.
That was not immediately accepted and the government seemed to be making efforts to persuade him to stay.
Lord Keane was the first member to leave the government on the issue, which has drawn criticism from the former attorney general and all five former prime ministers.
What is the Internal Markets Bill?
Following the end of the Brexit transition period in January, the bill sets out the rules for the operation of the UK internal market – trade between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- There are no new inspections on goods going from Northern Ireland to the rest of Great Britain
- Giving powers to UK ministers to amend or “refuse” the terms of movement of goods effective January 1 unless the UK and EU reach an alternative agreement by trade agreement.
- Powers that override previously agreed obligations on state aid – government support for businesses
The bill makes it clear that these powers are applicable even if they are contrary to international law.
Ministers say the law is needed to prevent “damaging” tariffs on goods traveling from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland if negotiations with the EU on a free trade agreement fail.
Some major Conservatives – including former Prime Minister John Major – have warned of the danger of tarnishing the UK’s reputation as an advocate of international law.
There is also the law Conflicted with distributed administrations, The UK’s “internal market” is concerned about how it will operate in the post-Brexit period and who will set the rules and standards.
Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen warned that the UK could not unilaterally set aside the withdrawal agreement.
She said on Wednesday that the agreement was the only way to guarantee a peace process in Northern Ireland and warned that its replacement would undermine confidence in the UK.
- PM supports planned Brexit agreement changes
- What is a withdrawal agreement bill?
The eighth round of Brexit trade agreement talks between the UK and the EU began last week.
The two sides are trying to reach an agreement before the end of the transition period on December 31. If no agreement is reached, the UK will go beyond the terms of the World Trade Organization.