LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson appealed to lawmakers in his Conservative Party on Friday to back a trade bill his government has admitted would break international law, saying it was needed to protect Britain.
Johnson's decision to proceed with his planned Internal Markets Bill has plunged trade talks with the EU into crisis and has prompted concern among some Conservatives, who fear that Britain's reputation would be damaged if it is seen to break the Brexit divorce treaty signed in January.
In a video conference with his lawmakers, Johnson explained the reason for the bill which he said would protect Britain's economic and political integrity, according to two of those who were on the call.
Johnson asked the lawmakers to back him, saying "Let's not go back to those miserable squabbling days of last autumn", a reference to last year's bitter divisions over the Brexit divorce deal which saw some Conservatives quit the party and others thrown out because of their opposition.
One of the lawmakers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Johnson's message had been well received.
Earlier, Johnson's spokesman said the prime minister would reiterate Britain's commitment to implementing the Northern Ireland protocol of the divorce deal but also explain the internal markets bill to protect the British province.
"He will also be setting out that as a responsible government we must provide a safety net which removes any ambiguity and ensures that the government can always deliver on its commitments to the people of Northern Ireland," the spokesman said.
Some senior Conservatives, including former prime ministers Theresa May and John Major, along with figures who have been strong supporters of Brexit, have denounced the plan to override part of the divorce deal, saying it could damage Britain's international standing.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and William James, writing by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)