Saturday, 30 May 2020

Brexiteer MPs seek law to jail British citizens who undermine Brexit negotiations abroad

The European Research Group (ERG) – a committee of staunch eurosceptics that supported Mr Johnson new deal – are pushing to make it a crime for British citizens to undermine Government negotiations. Boris Johnson previously reacted furiously to claims that Remain supporting MPs had become “shadow negotiators” and worked with EU members to sabotage Brexit negotiations. In September, Downing Street launched an investigation into alleged links between foreign governments and British MPs behind the Letwin Amendment.

The bill, tabled by Oliver Letwin, was passed through Parliament with a majority of 16 votes.

Boris Johnson’s Government are now being forced to seek a further extension to Article 50.

Sources claim they received intelligence that MPs, including Sir Letwin, had received help from the French Government and EU members in helping to pass the bill.

It is alleged Sir Letwin had agreed the extension date of January 31 in the first Benn Act with contacts at the French Embassy in London.

The claims were denied by the rebel in a BBC interview on Sunday morning.

However, they did not deny having meetings with Eurocrats and foreign diplomats.

Former Labour leader and Prime Minister Tony Blair has also been accused of undermining Brexit by lobbying EU figures to delay Brexit.

Mr Blair is said to have held meetings in an attempt to push for the UK to hold a second referendum.

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The ERG group will use a Commons device known as a Presentation Bill – a type of private member’s bill – in an attempt to kick-start the new law.

Speaking on Saturday night, ERG member Andrea Jenkyns MP said the Government should “ban such actions that jeopardise British statecraft.”

She said: “The Prime Minister performed admirably to return from Brussels with the deal he did.

“But the reality is, he was sent to the EU with one arm tied behind his back while his opponents have shuttled back and forth attempting to have the EU kick his legs out from under him.’

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“The events of the last few months confirm that the UK must join its international allies and institute laws to ban such actions that jeopardise British statecraft.” (17)

The new law is said to be based on a thinktank study, conducted by the Henry Jackson Society, to replicate a US law known as the Logan Act.

The law was named after Dr George Logan, who underwent unauthorised negotiations with France in 1798 in an attempt to halt war with the United States.

James Rogers, director of the Global Britain Programme at the Henry Jackson Society, said: ‘In the past, Britain has not needed an American-style Logan Act as well-observed convention left diplomacy to authorised government ministers.

“The recent rise of ‘shadow negotiators’, both with the EU and with foreign governments beyond, has destroyed that convention and risks undermining the national interest.

“Therefore, very serious consideration is likely to be given to new laws to deter unauthorised diplomatic activity with foreign actors with whom the government is in negotiation and disagreement.”

Meanwhile, Michael Gove has warned he will be implementing the next stage of Operation Yellowhammer – as the Letwin agreement has now increased the chances of a no deal Brexit.

It comes after Mr Gove pleaded with ministers in the Commons on Saturday to not back the Letwin amendment as it would increase the chances of the UK leaving without a deal.

Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Gove reiterated his comments.

He said: “We are going to leave by October 31.

“We have the means and the ability to do so and people who – yesterday we had some people who voted for delay, voted explicitly to try to frustrate this process and to drag it out.

“I think actually the mood in the country is clear and the Prime Minister’s determination is absolute and I am with him in this, we must leave by October 31.”

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