London (CNN) The UK is preparing legislation which will “break international law in a very specific and limited way,” a cabinet minister has said in the House of Commons.
Brandon Lewis, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, made the comment Tuesday in response to a question concerning legislation to be published on Wednesday, which critics fear would alter the contents of the Brexit deal that Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed with the European Union last autumn.
The comment came one day after the government was forced to play down reports in the British media that it was seeking to alter elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol, part of the deal that Johnson’s government reached with Brussels last year, designed to keep an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
A UK government official told reporters on Monday that the government “is completely committed, as it always has been, to implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol in good faith,” adding that “we are making minor clarifications in extremely specific areas to ensure that, as we implement the protocol, we are doing so in a way that allows ministers to always uphold and protect the Good Friday peace agreement.”
However, government attempts to calm audiences at home, in Brussels and around the world appear to have failed. Former Prime Minister Theresa May, who negotiated the bulk of the Brexit deal, formally known as the Withdrawal Agreement, asked in the Commons chamber: “How can the government reassure future international partners that the UK can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations of the agreements it signs?”