The Minister for Foreign Affairs has said the parliamentary lock on the controversial UK legislation that would breach the Northern Ireland Protocol has not impressed the European Union.

Simon Coveney said the compromise struck between the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and rebel MPs last week, which would mean the House of Commons having the last say if the Internal Market Bill's powers were ever invoked, was no reassurance "to anybody outside the UK".

He described the episode as "damaging" to the reputation of both Mr Johnson and Britain.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Mr Coveney said: "The British government has acted to try and appease concerns within the Conservative Party because there were serious concerns with this approach. 

"So accepting an amendment which effectively puts a parliamentary lock on acting on the elements of the legislation which undermine an international treaty has gone some way to calm the divisions within the Conservative Party. 

"I don't think it has impressed the European Union. A government with an 80 seat majority, having a parliamentary lock, I'm not sure that's a reassurance to anybody outside the UK."

He added: "But of course this bill was always about British politics and managing the issue within Westminster and appeasing elements of the Conservative Party.  


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"I think that's an internal parliamentary management issue for the British government, but it doesn't unfortunately move us away from the threat of the United Kingdom to breach international law, to break a treaty which they themselves designed and signed less than 12 months ago, and that is very regrettable, because that makes solving what is already a pretty complex series of problems even more difficult for the two negotiating teams."

The Minister said he still thought it was possible for both sides to reach agreement in the future relationship negotiations, over the next six weeks.

"This has been very damaging to Britain's reputation and the PM's reputation outside the UK. That is the reality. The sooner we can focus on solving problems that can allow us to get a future relationship in place, and therefore make the elements of this legislation irrelevant, the better," he said.

Mr Coveney was speaking on the margins of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels which focused on demonstrations against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

In a statement Mr Coveney said: "Ireland is appalled by the human rights violations in Belarus, where peaceful protesters continue to face indiscriminate detention, harassment, intimidation and ill-treatment."