'Read stuff before you sign it, especially if you negotiated it yourself' - Hilary Benn

9 September 2020, 20:46 | Updated: 9 September 2020, 21:43

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A Labour MP has urged the Government to "read stuff before you sign it, especially if you negotiated it yourself," in the wake of the breaking of international law over the Brexit divorce deal.

The Labour chair of the Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union Hilary Benn told LBC the fact the Government had admitted to breaking international law was "strange".

Speaking to Iain Dale he said the issue raised a "fundamental point of principle" which was the reason former Prime Ministers had now become embroiled in the row.

He questioned what would happen if the "United Kingdom cannot be relied upon to keep its word in honouring treaties it has negotiated and signed."

"Read stuff before you sign it, especially if you negotiated it yourself," he said to Iain of the Government.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said UK proposals linked to the Withdrawal Agreement will "break international law in a very specific and limited way".

Earlier Sir John Major criticised the Government's decision to override key elements of Boris Johnson's Brexit deal.

Ministers have acknowledged that provisions in the UK Internal Market Bill, published on Wednesday, are in breach of international law.

In a statement, the former prime minister said: "For generations, Britain's word - solemnly given - has been accepted by friend and foe. Our signature on any treaty or agreement has been sacrosanct.

"Over the last century, as our military strength has dwindled, our word has retained its power.

"If we lose our reputation for honouring the promises we make, we will have lost something beyond price that may never be regained."

On the specifics of the Northern Ireland protocol Mr Benn told LBC there were "things that have not yet been resolved," but he said the Joint Committee was a mechanism which could help to resolve those issue and "sort these questions out."

When Iain asked the Labour MP if he had not previously alerted the Government to these issues at the time the Withdrawal Agreement was being negotiated the answer was simple, "indeed that is correct," Mr Benn said.

Giving details of the negotiations under the premiership of Theresa May, Mr Benn gave LBC some of the background.

He warned that "with under four months to go" the "biggest problem with moving good either way" would be a lack of information.

"They don't know what they're meant to be doing, what the rules are, what forms have to be completed and that is clearly very undesirable," Mr Benn said.

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