In recent correspondence with Dean Russell, our Watford MP, I raised concern about the Government’s decision to break international law in trade negotiations with the EU.

As readers will probably know, he supported the Government in the vote.

It was heartwarming to hear that he always prioritises the interests of his constituents, even though he has consistently voted against measures to reduce tax avoidance and prevent climate change in Parliament.

In relation to breaking international law, he argues that “the UK government has reasonably and responsibly decided a safety net is required to protect our own interests and protect our union”.

But why? Article 16 of the Withdrawal Agreement says : “If the application of the protocol leads to serious, economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist, or to diversion of trade, the Union or the United Kingdom may unilaterally take appropriate safeguard measures.”

In the words of the former Attorney General, someone who knows this protocol better than the Prime Minister I think, “there are clear and lawful responses available to Her Majesty’s Government…”. Far from upending the protocol, it offers protection.

This is not an argument about Remain vs Leave, it is an argument about right vs wrong. The Brexiteer and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Lamont says the bill is “impossible to defend”. The Brexiteer and former Attorney General, who helped to negotiate and signed off this deal as Attorney General, says the bill is “unconscionable”.

And the Brexiteer the Lord Howard, the Prime Minister’s former boss, said: “I never thought it was a thing I’d hear a British minister, far less a Conservative minister, say, which is that the Government was going to invite parliament to act in breach of international law…

The Prime Minister has said many times he wants to bring unity to the country during his premiership. I therefore congratulate him on having in just one short year united his five predecessors. Unfortunately, their point of agreement is that he is trashing the reputation of this country and trashing the reputation of his office. And why are the five former Prime Ministers so united on this point? Because they know our moral authority in the world comes from our commitment to the rule of law and keeping our word.

But, of course, The Prime Minister and Dean Russell know better!

John Maguire

Rickmansworth Road, Watford