Boris Johnson's plan to disregard international law over Brexit is expected to be blocked by the House of Lords next month and a fire test to be carried out on relations with Joe Biden if he wins next week's US elections.
Mr Biden has warned that Mr Johnson's UK Single Market Act would undermine the peace process in Northern Ireland and that he would never sign a trade deal with the UK unless the main clauses of the law were removed.
House of Lords MPs are expected to overwhelmingly oblige Mr Biden to remove six clauses from the bill that ministers have admitted violating the UK withdrawal treaty signed with the EU last year.
The November 9th vote in the House of Lords will take place less than a week after the US presidential election on November 3rd and in the middle of what is likely to be the final phase of EU negotiations with Britain on a new trade deal.
Mr Johnson will then face the dilemma of whether to oblige his government to reintroduce the controversial clauses in the House of Commons and risk an argument with Mr Biden – if he wins the election – and with Brussels. The European Commission has already started legal proceedings against the UK for violating the “good faith” provisions of the Treaty.
There is no doubt Mr Johnson will be defeated in the House of Lords, where conservative peers, led by former Tory leader Michael Howard, joined forces with opposition and Crossbench members earlier this month to condemn the legislation.
Peers voted 395 to 169 on October 20 for a motion regretting that the Single Market Act "would undermine the rule of law and damage the reputation of the UK".
We cannot allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to fall victim to Brexit
Mr Johnson introduced the clauses into the Single Market Act claiming the EU was planning to interpret the Brexit Withdrawal Treaty – and the associated Northern Ireland Protocol – "extremely", creating a hard border between the region and the rest of the US UNITED KINGDOM.
The proposed legislation aims to limit the EU's power to set state aid to Northern Irish businesses and customs regimes in the region.
But Mr Biden said last month that the bill would undermine the EU-UK deal to maintain an open border on the island of Ireland. "We cannot allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought Northern Ireland peace to fall victim to Brexit," he tweeted.
The vote in the House of Lords was due to take place later in November, but colleagues wanted to get the six clauses out of the bill at the earliest possible stage – at the bill stage.
Angela Smith, the leader of Labor to the Lords, said: “I want to urge Downing Street to resolve the problem. The smart approach would be for them to remove the offensive clauses so their peers can focus on reviewing and improving the rest of the bill. "
The Lords vote could take place in the final stage of negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK. Talks will close in London on Wednesday before moving on to Brussels on Thursday.
Both sides are now working on a mid-November deadline for an agreement, a timeframe that would allow the European Parliament enough time to ratify the agreement.
The EU Parliament has scheduled its vote for its last session of the year in the week of December 14th – just two weeks before the end of the British transition after Brexit.
EU officials said much of the talks this week in London started with the technical challenge of working out a common text on areas where there is already significant agreement, including many terms and conditions of trade in goods and services, with one Mixture of EU and UK drafts that are used as base texts and then changed.
A European Commission spokesman said Tuesday that "both sides are working hard to reach an agreement," but one person who was briefed on the talks said no breakthroughs had yet been made to the core fisheries problems and conditions for a level playing field to resolve for business and governance arrangements for the agreement.