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Raab denies Brexit legislation threatening to breach law damaged UK’s reputation

REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/Pool

By Sam Blewett, PA Political Correspondent

Dominic Raab has said he has met “no-one” that thinks the UK is not a defender of the international rule of law in the wake of controversial legislation threatening to breach the Brexit treaty with the EU.

The Foreign Secretary also said that any comparison with China breaching the agreement with Britain on Hong Kong was “crazy” as he came under questioning by MPs on Tuesday.

The Government is facing legal action from Brussels after pushing ahead with the UK Internal Market Bill, which could override parts of the Withdrawal Agreement signed last year.

Labour’s Chris Bryant said the legislation represented a “surrender of a key British value” during a meeting of the Commons foreign affairs committee.

Mr Raab responded: “Whilst of course there is the Brexit drama going on and we’re at the 11th hour of the FTA [Free Trade Agreement] negotiations, when I leave the UK and indeed am not talking about Brexit with my European partners, no-one thinks the UK is anything other than a stalwart reliable defender of the international rule of law.”

Mr Bryant, however, dismissed this saying the committee has had evidence to the contrary, adding: “We’ve had people say it does undermine our international reputation.”

The SNP’s Stewart McDonald raised the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which Mr Raab has accused China of breaking by forcing controversial national security legislation on Hong Kong.

Mr Raab said: “What I think you’re trying to neatly do is draw some moral equivalence or substantial equivalence between the two and I think it’s crazy, I think it’s absolute nonsense.”

He also insisted “we haven’t broken international law” yet, instead saying the legislation is necessary due to “frankly some of the aggressive behaviour” from Brussels.

The EU has criticised the Bill, which is making its way through Parliament, as having “seriously damaged trust” and the legislation has prompted warnings from politicians in Europe and the US.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said it was “by its nature a breach of the obligation of good faith” in the Agreement signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

But, despite launching legal proceedings, Ms von der Leyen agreed for negotiators to continue their talks to reach a trade deal after a video conference with Mr Johnson on Saturday.

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