Theresa May stuck to her word and refused to back Boris Johnson's controversial Brexit bill

HANNAH MCKAY/Reuters/Kamran Jebreili/AP

At one point during her time as prime minister, Theresa May was one of the biggest defenders of leaving the European Union because after all 'Brexit means Brexit.'

Despite leaving Downing Street more than a year ago she is still backing Brexit and the EU Withdrawal Agreement by refusing to vote for Boris Johnson's legislation to override the deal that he struck with the EU last year.

Although the controversial Internal Market Bill was passed in the Commons on Tuesday by 340 votes to 256, there was no vote registered by May, leading many to assume that she decided to abstain from the vote.

May had previously spoken out against the bill, telling her fellow MPs in the Commons last week:

I consider that by introducing clauses 41 to 45 the Government is acting recklessly and irresponsibly with no thought for the long-term impact on the standing of the United Kingdom in the world.

This will lead to untold damage to the United Kingdom's reputation, it puts the future of the United Kingdom at risk. As a result, with regret, I have to tell the minister I cannot support this Bill.

I believe that the Government's willingness unilaterally to abandon an international agreement or parts of an international agreement it has signed, its willingness to renege on an agreement it has signed will lead to some questioning, as has already been made clear in an intervention, some questioning the willingness of the Government to fully uphold the measures in the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.

However, the nature of May's rebellion didn't quite resonate with everyone as many felt that she should have voted against it and made a real stand rather than just not voting.

The UK is due to leave to formally leave the European Union on 31 December, with the current transition period showing no signs of striking a deal between the two parties.

Johnson's legislation has been flagged for flouting international law with Ed Miliband delivering a scathing speech to the prime minister earlier this month on the issue.

Business secretary Alok Sharma has attempted to defend the legislation calling it a 'legal safety net' should talks collapse.

He said:

The reason we have taken powers to ensure that in the event we do not reach an agreement with our EU friends on how to implement the [Northern Ireland Protcol] is so we’re able to deliver on our promises in our manifesto and the command paper.

The bill will now transition to the House of Lords before it can complete its passage.

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