Here’s one of the 332 Conservative MPs who think it’s fine to break international law

Here’s Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton. Sometimes he’s a really good guy, like when he proposed an amendment to the Agri Bill in an attempt to get our EU-derived food and animal welfare standards enshrined in law. It was defeated because, yeah, the government has given assurances that there’ll be no race to the bottom, no slippage no matter with whom we trade. Two problems here: 1) this government has given assurances…!!!Sorry. I’m not laughing. It’s not funny. 2) we all know the US will want us to cave on regulation, labelling etc and it looks like we are going to be pretty desperate to get deals (even if Brexiteers unlike John Redwood are now saying that trade deals don’t actually matter.)

STOP PRESS: Mr Parish fights on for amendments to Agri Bill that would protect standards. This we like!

Anyway, as I said, sometimes Neil seems to be on the side of his rural constituents and appears to retain some decency and integrity. At other times, not so much. His response to one of his constituents on the dreadful reputation-destroying Internal Market Bill is in marked contrast to that of fellow Devon MP, Sir Gary Streeter. Take a look. We start with Dr David Williams letter to Mr Parish:

Dear Mr Parish

As one of your constituents I’m writing to ask you to vote against the Internal Market Bill on all future occasions in the House of Commons.

The Northern Island Protocol agreed by Parliament is very clear about the consequences on trade between the UK mainland and Northern Island. There is plenty of evidence for this including this from a House of Commons Insight Published Tuesday, 14 January, 2020:

“In practice, however, Northern Ireland will apply many EU customs rules and there will effectively be a customs and regulatory border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Irish Sea.”

The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement which included the Northern Island Protocol was presented to the British public as “oven ready.” This was a key element of the Conservative platform at the last election and so should be seen as a commitment the Government should honour.

I cannot understand how the Government now has a different interpretation and seems to be reneging on what was agreed with the EU and voted for by the British Public.  I was also shocked to hear your support for the Bill during its second reading, as I would have thought you would not support such a blatant act of bad faith and the flouting of International Law

One of the great assets that the UK has is that it is seen as a pillar of the International Order whose sense of fair play can be relied upon.  This standing has taken centuries to gain.  If this Law passes then our reputation will be trashed in one shameful act and we will be seen as an untrustworthy adversary in all future international negotiations. 

Please do not make the mistake of supporting this bill in future.

And here’s Mr Parish’s reply:

Dear Dr. Williams,

Thank you for your email regarding the UK Internal Market Bill.

The UK Internal Market has existed for hundreds of years. People, goods and services have been able to flow freely throughout the country, without hindrance. As the transitional period comes to an end, it is right that the Government seeks to ensure seamless trade continues between all four nations.

Seamless trade within the Internal Market is essential for UK businesses. Indeed, many businesses rely more on internal trade than they do with other global partners. For example, Scotland and Northern Ireland each export more to the rest of the UK than to all the EU combined. Without the provisions laid out within the Bill, businesses may be faced with unwelcome regulatory barriers- limiting their ability to trade and prosper.

It is my hope a Free Trade Agreement, between the UK and EU, is reached. This is the hope of the Prime Minister, our Government and indeed our friends within the EU. In this faith, the on-going disputes that have emerged from the Joint Committee discussions must be addressed. It is my understanding the EU have recently stated there are no guarantees the UK will be given a “third country listing”, the status given to nations outside of union that are permitted to export goods to the bloc. If this is the case, this would effectively prohibit our ability to move food from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Indeed, it would be illegal to do so.

Nothing could be worse for businesses, farmers and other stakeholders along the food supply chain. They would be effectively cut off from the intra-national trade they depend upon. Therefore, it is right the Government have made provisions to ensure Northern Irish businesses are not met with new bureaucratic checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

I also welcome the provisions within the Bill allowing for further financial assistance for UK regions, across policy areas. Such powers will be critical as we continue to level-up regions across the UK and proceed with our recovery efforts from Coronavirus. These new powers will enable the Government to provide financial assistance to local authorities, educational authorities and community groups (among others). I know such organisations within Devon, which have been hard-hit by the economic fallout of Covid-19, will welcome this provision.

Our historic Internal Market must be maintained. To achieve this, Northern Ireland must remain fully a part of the UK’s customs territory, with unfettered access to the rest of the UK. Therefore, I support the Government’s efforts, implemented within the Internal Market Bill, to ensure the integrity of the United Kingdom.

Thank you for contacting me on this issue.

Your sincerely,


Now this sort of guff will, usually, stultify the recipient into submission. Not our Dr Williams. He comes right back at him:

Thank you for your response, but it does not address the points I made. It in no way justifies your support for the Bill. 
I agree that the UK internal market is important. However the Prime Minister and his team negotiated a deal that included putting up internal barriers. This has been clear since last October. I repeat the summary from the House of Commons Insight from earlier this year:

“In practice, however, Northern Ireland will apply many EU customs rules and there will effectively be a customs and regulatory border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Irish Sea.”

Having got the support of the British public to that deal and enshrined it in International Law there is no justification to renege on it now.
I do not believe that the U turn done by the PM last night to introduce a vote of the House of Commons before the Law can come into effect mitigates the great harm to the UK’s reputation.
I again request that as my representative you vote against the Internal Market Bill in subsequent Stages in the House of Commons.

What will Mr Parish say next? Here at West Country Voices, we feel that the law is the law is the law. End of. The EU agree, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi agree. Reneging on International treaties is an absolute no-no. Reneging on the Withdrawal Agreement threatens the Good Friday Agreement, of which the USA are guarantors.

And what will Mr Parish say if and when he reviews what he said to his boss, yesterday? Oh dear, oh dear. This obsession with ‘delivering’ (inflicting) Brexit, no matter what, overrides all common sense, all decency and all integrity at a time when the UK has never been in greater need of all three.

Brexit is an unmitigated disaster. I am sure Mr Parish knows that very well. I am sure he also knows that destroying a country’s reputation to satisfy a warped and destructive ideology is a very, very bad idea indeed. So. Let’s see what he does next.