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Earlier this week, MPs voted to give the legislation a second reading, with the bill aimed at overriding parts of the post-Brexit deal on trading arrangements in Northern Ireland. But the decision from the UK Government to press ahead with this move has triggered a furious backlash from many, who have branded it illegal and a clear breach of international law. The EU had repeatedly warned Britain it would retaliate in the strongest possible way if the UK decided to press ahead with the legislation.

There are now fears a brutal trade war could erupt between the two sides at a time when millions of Britons are already struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

Alistair Jones, associate politics professor at De Montfort University in Leicester, warned relations between the UK and EU are now “plummeting further”.

But the main problem for the UK will be how the rest of the world views the escalating situation, with Britain now perceived as “protagonist” because it wants to breach a treaty which had previously been approved by its own parliament.

The politics expert told “In terms of the relationship with the EU, the passage of this bill is going to impact detrimentally. Levels of trust between the EU and the UK are plummeting further.

“Both sides claim to be making concessions and accusing the other side of failing to do so. In this, both are talking past each other.

“The issue is how the rest of the world see things. In this, the UK is perceived to be the protagonist.

“It is the UK that has failed to implement the Northern Ireland Protocol in full, while the EU has extended the grace period.

“It is the UK Government that wishes to breach a treaty that was approved by its Parliament.”

Professor Jones believes the UK has taken the “nuclear option” as opposed to activating and implementing Article 16 of the protocol, which he believes would have been the better option.

He warned the UK acting unilaterally over the international agreement “is an action that Margaret Thatcher or any other UK Prime Minister would never have countenanced”.

The politics professor explained: “In all of this, the UK Government appears to have gone for the nuclear option.

“The process of activating and implementing Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol could have been a better way forward, with the UK Government specifying which parts of the Withdrawal Agreement are causing problems for the Northern Ireland economy.

“Some of the proposed solutions, such as Red and Green Lanes for goods going to Northern Ireland (or further into the EU Single Market), have resulted in positive noises from the EU.

“All of this will be lost if the Northern Ireland Protocol bill becomes law.

“The UK acting unilaterally over an international agreement is an action that Margaret Thatcher or any other UK Prime Minister would never have countenanced.”

Several questions have been raised over recent weeks as to the legality of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, with many experts claiming it is in breach of international law.

But addressing MPs in the House of Commons last week, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss defended legal advice underpinning the Bill.

She said: “We set out the case extremely clearly in the legal advice and the doctrine of necessity has been used by other governments in the past where there is a severe issue and the other party is unwilling to renegotiate that treaty.”