'Get on with Brexit and don't reopen old wounds in Northern Ireland' Labour MP says

9 September 2020, 18:42 | Updated: 9 September 2020, 18:52

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A Labour MP has told LBC the Government needs to "get on" with securing a Brexit deal and "not reopen old wounds in Northern Ireland".

Bill Esterson -  Shadow Minister for International Trade and Labour MP for Sefton Central has told LBC that you "can't just break the law a bit" speaking after Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said UK proposals linked to the Withdrawal Agreement will "break international law in a very specific and limited way".

During an interview with LBC's Shelagh Fogarty, the Labour MP said it was in the "national interest" for the Government to "deliver the promise they made at the general election" and "reach an agreement with the European Union".

Mr Esterson said Labour was encouraging the PM to follow through on his commitments to securing a trade deal.

He said the Government "need to get on with it and not reopen old wounds in Northern Ireland".

Earlier on Wednesday Matt Hancock said breaking international law by overriding the Withdrawal Agreement is necessary to preserve peace in Northern Ireland if a trade deal with the EU is not brokered.

The Shadow Trade Minister told LBC that there was "real concern" around Tuesday's announcement and the potential for it to "undermine" the Good Friday agreement.

He added that when Brandon Lewis stood at the despatch box he "brazenly" announced that the Conservative Government intended to "break international law".

"This is just not the way to go," he told Shelagh.

When asked what his response to the Northern Ireland Secretary's comments, Mr Esterson said: "Well you can't just break the law a bit, you either break the law or you don't".

Earlier, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said she was "very concerned" following the tabling in Parliament of the UK Internal Market Bill.

As talks continued in London on a post-Brexit free trade agreement, she said such actions would "undermine trust" and called on the Prime Minister to honour his past commitments.

At Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Johnson said his priority was to preserve the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland peace process.

"To do that we need a legal safety net to protect our country against extreme or irrational interpretations of the protocol which could lead to a border down the Irish Sea in a way, that I believe, would be prejudicial to the interests of the Good Friday Agreement and prejudicial to the interests of peace in our country," he said.

"That has to be our priority."

Watch the whole interesting and informative insight in the video at the top of the page.