Boris Johnson has said he expects everyone to obey the law despite the government admitting it planned to break international regulations and breach the Brexit agreement.
The prime minister was asked during Prime Minister’s Questions how could he expect the public to obey laws if the government didn’t.
Johnson responded: “We expect everyone in this country to obey the law.”
The exchange came after Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis sparked fury on Tuesday when he admitted that changes in the Internal Market Bill would breach international law in a “very specific and limited way”.
Lewis defended the measure by telling MPs it was necessary to ensure Northern Ireland could continue to enjoy unfettered access to markets in the rest of the UK.
It was the first time Johnson had commented on the remarks made by Lewis.
Labour MP Angela Rayner tweeted that the PM expected everyone to follow rules except his own government.
She wrote: "We expect everybody* in this country to obey the law" says @BorisJohnson. *Apart from himself and his government. #PMQs”
Her colleague Feryal Clark added: “The PM says everyone should obey the law. He forgot to add, unless you are Dominic Cummings and the Tory government #PMQ.”
The EU has warned Britain its international reputation would be tarnished and there would be no trade deal if it tried to undercut the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement in relation to the protocol for Northern Ireland.
No 10 said it was committed to the treaty but that it needed minor clarifications and a backup plan to support the 1998 Northern Ireland peace deal.
On Tuesday, former prime minister Theresa May warned that trust in the UK would be damaged if the country reneged on the deal.
In an intervention in the Commons, she asked how the UK "can be trusted" by its allies if the initial agreement was not adhered to.
She said: “Given that, how can the government reassure future international partners the UK can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations of the agreements it signs?”