David Cameron expresses 'misgivings' over Boris Johnson's controversial Brexit bill

14 September 2020, 08:49 | Updated: 14 September 2020, 09:08

File photo: Former prime minister David Cameron during an interview with LBC's Nick Ferrari
File photo: Former prime minister David Cameron during an interview with LBC's Nick Ferrari. Picture: LBC

By Megan White

Former Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed "misgivings" over Boris Johnson's controversial new Brexit bill.

The bill, which returns to the Commons on Monday, has garnered growing criticism after it was revealed it could break international law.

The prime minister is under increasing pressure to back down on plans to override elements of his own Withdrawal Agreement, with former leaders calling on Tory rebels to vote his Bill down.

Read more: Justice Secretary 'will quit' if ministers break international law in 'unacceptable' way

The former Conservative leader said: "Passing an Act of Parliament and then going on to break an international treaty obligation is the very, very last thing you should contemplate.

"It should be an absolute final resort.

"So, I do have misgivings about what's being proposed."

He added: "But, I would just make this point.

"So far what's happened is the Government has proposed a law that it might pass, or might not pass, or might use, or might not use depending on whether ... certain circumstances do, or do not appear.

Mr Cameron added: "And, of course, the bigger picture here is that we are in a vital negotiation with the European Union to get a deal and I think we have to keep that context, that big prize in mind.

"And that's why I have perhaps held back from saying more up to now."

Outrage at the Bill has come from across the political spectrum, including from Conservative former prime ministers Theresa May, Sir John Major and Lord Howard.

Sir John and fellow former PM Tony Blair united to urge MPs to reject the "shaming" legislation, saying it imperils the Irish peace process, trade negotiations and the UK's integrity.

"It raises questions that go far beyond the impact on Ireland, the peace process and negotiations for a trade deal - crucial though they are. It questions the very integrity of our nation," they wrote in the Sunday Times.

Despite Mr Johnson's attempts to drum up support, Tory rebels suggested their numbers were growing and opinions were only hardened by Mr Johnson's increased rhetoric.

The Prime Minister, with a large Commons majority, should win an expected vote of the Bill's principles during the second reading of the Bill on Monday.

But a rebellion could come later with Commons justice committee chairman Sir Bob Neill's amendment, which he said would impose a "parliamentary lock" on any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.

Labour minister Rachel Reeves said the party would "need to look at the detail" of Sir Bob's amendment and said Labour MPs will table amendments of their own.