NEWBURY MP Laura Farris has defended her decision to back controversial Brexit legislation after it was condemned by her political rivals.

The Internal Market Bill passed through the House of Commons by a majority of 84 this week, even though ministers have admitted it could breach international law.

That’s because the bill – which sets out trade rules for the four nations in the UK after the Brexit transition period ends – gives the Government the power to override parts its Withdrawal Agreement with the EU.

Ms Farris is one of the 340 MPs who backed the bill on September 29 and she has been criticised by the West Berkshire and Newbury Liberal Democrats.

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In a statement, the group said: “By backing the controversial Internal Market Bill, Laura Farris has chosen to drag the country’s reputation through the mud.”

The Conservative MP believes the bill is lawful and she supports an amendment that adds what has been described as a “parliamentary lock”.

The amendment, which has been accepted, prevents the Government from overriding the Withdrawal Agreement without support from Parliament.

Ms Farris said: “The overarching purpose of the bill is to protect the free flow of trade across the UK and more specifically – between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“The Government has genuine concerns that the EU are not honouring their own obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement.

“Indications from Michel Barnier that Great Britain might not have third-party status in the event of no deal were seen as illustrations of this, and would fundamentally threaten the integrity of the Union.

“Clause 45 conferred a unilateral right on Ministers to act to protect the Union ‘notwithstanding’ their obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement.

“This was raised early on and Bob Neill QC tabled an amendment to the bill which altered this.

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“The Prime Minister and Michael Gove said in the first debate that this was an attractive amendment and it was subsequently accepted by the Government on September 16.”

She added: “The Government has said repeatedly that it does not wish to ask Parliament to invoke this clause.

“But if the risk is to the integrity of the United Kingdom in the event we leave with no deal, then I respect its right to do so.

“I remain committed to supporting the Government to secure a free trade agreement.”

The EU is now taking legal action against the UK Government because it has refused to remove sections of the Internal Market Bill that allow it to override the Withdrawal Agreement.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “This draft bill, by its very nature, is a breach of the obligation of good faith laid down in the Withdrawal Agreement.”