04:18 GMT19 September 2020
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    The United Kingdom formally left the European Union in January under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, which Boris Johnson's Conservative Party won a majority on in the 2019 general election. However, the government is now threatening to breach the deal it signed with Brussels.

    The UK signed its Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with the EU in a rush due to "challenging" political circumstances, a Downing Street spokesperson has admitted. 

    "The Withdrawal Agreement and Northern Ireland protocol aren’t like any other treaty", the prime minister’s official spokesperson said in response to criticism. "It was agreed at pace in the most challenging possible political circumstances to deliver on a decision by the British people, with the clear overriding purpose of protecting the special circumstances of Northern Ireland".

    Labour Peer Andrew Adonis later posted a tweet referring to Boris Johnson’s defence of "breaching" protocols in the Withdrawal Agreement as "incredible" and compared it to bank robbery.

    ​This follows an admission by a government minister confirming that the UK plans to introduce domestic powers to govern and change the Northern Ireland protocol. 

    Brussels has noted that this move would be illegal and scupper trade deal negotiations.

    Speaking at a press conference this morning, Johnson said that the controversial measures worked as a "safety net" to ensure continued stability in Northern Ireland.

    The 1998 Good Friday Agreement requires Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to remain in "regulatory alignment" to avoid the creation of a hard border.

    Last year, the prime minister officially signed the Withdrawal Agreement, outlining the UK exit from the EU, and championed it as a "fantastic moment: for the country".

    The prime minister threatened the Conservative minister with the withdrawal of the whip for criticising the agreement, prior to the 2019 general election.

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    European Union, United Kingdom, Brexit
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