The Anglican church has publicly challenged the government’s willingness to break international law over Brexit, with five archbishops from Great Britain and Ireland joining together to condemn what could be a “disastrous precedent”.
In a rare step, the archbishops of Canterbury and York, plus their counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Ireland, have written a joint letter warning that such a step would have “enormous moral, as well as political and legal, consequences”.
If the internal market bill, due to be debated by peers on Monday, became law, it would “profoundly affect” the relationship between the four nations of the United Kingdom, said the archbishop.
“We believe this would create a disastrous precedent. It is particularly disturbing for all of us who feel a sense of duty and responsibility to the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement – that international treaty on which peace and stability within and between the UK and Ireland depends …” added the archbishops.
They said that the UK government was preparing to breach the Northern Ireland protocol, which had been agreed to facilitate the UK’s departure from the EU.
The letter said: “If carefully negotiated terms are not honoured and laws can be ‘legally’ broken, on what foundations does our democracy stand?”
Their letter follows the announcement by Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, to MPs last month that the proposal would allow the government to break international law in a “limited and specific way”.