Fury over bill

Johnson reaches deal with rebels as top lawyer quits

Unhappy: Lord Keen (pic: Wikimedia Commons)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night agreed a last minute compromise with rebels threatening to scupper his Internal Market Bill – just hours after Scotland’s top law officer resigned.

Lord Keen of Elie QC, the advocate general, tendered his resignation to Mr Johnson on Wednesday morning over concern that the bill will override the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

The UK Internal Market Bill, which cleared its first parliamentary hurdle to becoming law earlier this week, has been heavily criticised in both Westminster and Brussels.

The EU has threatened legal action and said it could threaten ongoing trade talks on a future EU-UK relationship.

In his resignation letter, Lord Keen, a former Scottish Conservative Party chairman, said: “Over the past week I have found it increasingly difficult to reconcile what I consider to be my obligations as a Law Officer with your policy intentions with respect to the UKIM Bill.

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“I have endeavoured to identify a respectable argument for the provisions at clauses 42 to 45 of the Bill but it is now clear that this will not meet your policy intentions.

“In these circumstances I consider that it is my duty to tender my resignation from your Government.

“Your government faces challenges on a number of fronts and I fear that the UKIM Bill in its present form will not make these any easier. I wish you well in dealing with these issues.”

A Downing Street spokesman said: “Lord Keen has resigned as Advocate General for Scotland. The prime minister thanks him for his service.”

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