Great Reboot

UK's Lewis expresses optimism for a solution to legislation row

FILE PHOTO: Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis arrives at John Hume's funeral at St Eugene's Cathedral in Londonderry, Northern Ireland August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Lorraine O'Sullivan

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s minister for Northern Ireland said on Wednesday he was optimistic the government could find a way through its latest standoff with Brussels by using the joint committee set up to tackle issues with the divorce agreement.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has introduced an Internal Market Bill which it says is needed in case the European Union makes a “material breach” of the divorce agreement. The EU has said Britain’s bill could collapse trade talks and must be scrapped.

“The bill does outline the safety net that we want to put in place, should it be needed,” Brandon Lewis told a parliamentary committee.

“But as the prime minister outlined, that is not something we’re looking to do, it is not something we want to do and I’m optimistic that through the free trade negotiations and the joint committee work, that we will be able to get a positive resolution so that we don’t need to look at getting to that point in the first place.”

Reporting by William James; writing by Kate Holton; editing by Elizabeth Piper