After becoming Prime Minister Boris had to face many unpleasant occasions but this is the first incident which has brought him on the knees. He has even pleaded with fractious Tory MPs to back him in his bust-up with Brussels, amid Downing Street fears of a backbench rebellion against measures which ministers admit break international law.

In a Friday evening video conference call, the prime minister sought to answer deep anxieties over provisions in his UK Internal Market Bill which have been condemned by two former prime ministers and even provoked Brussels to threaten legal action.

Senior and normally loyal Tories have vowed to vote against the government when the bill is rushed through the Commons next week. On his part Boris has been striving to muster support which unlikely to happen. His clarification to the 250 MPs has been these are "necessary to stop a foreign power from breaking up our country", and maintained there is still a good chance of getting a trade deal with the EU.

However Tory sources maintain that since he is not in the position to enforce the Brexit he has been desperately looking forward for some kind of way out to protect his image and prestige.

Leaders in the European parliament said they would "under no circumstances ratify" any trade deal reached if "UK authorities breach or threaten to breach" the Withdrawal Agreement. Johnson holds he needed to override the Withdrawal Agreement because of the EU’s “extreme” interpretation of protections for Northern Ireland. He said: “We are now hearing that, unless we agree to the EU’s terms, the EU will use an extreme interpretation of the Northern Ireland protocol to impose a full-scale trade border down the Irish Sea. We are being told that the EU will not only impose tariffs on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, but that they might actually stop the transport of food products from GB to NI.

The outrage about Johnson’s move suggests that walking away from solemnly signed international agreements is unprecedented. This is unhistorical and untrue. Johnson’s re-writing of the withdrawal treaty provoked outrage for two reasons. First, owning the illegality of the new law was seen as an unforced error by his British critics. In their view, Johnson should have found a form of words, a fig leaf, to deflect the charge of law-breaking. The second reason for outrage was that Great Britain was doing this to a bloc of other European countries; not China or Iran or Mauritius. Called the Internal Market Bill, the UK has attempted to ensure that it will be able to trade freely with its constituent countries, namely, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile the UK side is understood to be ready to keep talking even if Brussels is suing the UK for breach of an international treaty, but continues to demand “realism” from EU negotiators on issues like state aid and fisheries.

Brown on Friday described the threat to break international law as “a huge act of self-harm” and said he feared Johnson was leading the UK into “battle with Europe for years ahead” which would damage national prosperity. His comments followed warnings from fellow ex-premiers Sir John Major and Theresa May that the UK risks forfeiting the “trust” necessary to strike future deals with countries around the world.

Blair and Major described the legislation as imperilling the Irish peace process, trade negotiations and the UK's integrity. The Tory and Labour former leaders have written in The Sunday Times: "It puts the Good Friday Agreement at risk, because it negates the predictability, political stability and legal clarity that are integral to the delicate balance between the north and south of Ireland that is at the core of the peace process. "This has wide-ranging ramifications. It will not only make negotiation with the EU more difficult, but also any trade negotiations with other nations, including the United States. Once trust is undermined, distrust becomes prevalent.

Meanwhile, disquiet among civil servants has also surfaced in a barbed memo from the departing head of the government’s Legal Department, Sir Jonathan Jones, who is working out his notice after quitting last week in protest at the bill. Meanwhile talks between Labour and the government aimed at breaking the Brexit impasse have ended without an agreement. Jeremy Corbyn said the discussions had "gone as far as they can", blaming what he called the government's "increasing weakness and instability".

Blair and Major also mentioned "We both opposed Brexit. We both accept it is now happening. But this way of negotiating, with reason cast aside in pursuit of ideology and cavalier bombast posing as serious diplomacy, is irresponsible, wrong in principle and dangerous in practice."

On its part the European Union (EU) demanded Thursday that the UK should drop its plans of changing the Brexit deal or be prepared for these moves to impact trade discussions between them. It said the UK had “seriously damaged trust” by publishing a bill to amend clauses within the agreement it had signed in January this year. The Boris Johnson government also acknowledged that such moves would potentially also be in violation of international law. The EU is also considering legal action against the UK for violating what is an international treaty.

Nevertheless the cabinet minister Michael Gove coming forward in support of Boris said that the UK had made it “perfectly clear” that it would not back down. However Tories wonder “If He’s Losing His Grip”. In private conversations, some Conservatives are growing more concerned about the failings of the British government. After months of policy blunders and with the economy deep in recession, Johnson is desperate to use this to salvage his position. The Brexit talks appear to be on the point of collapse after Britain flatly rejected an EU ultimatum over the government’s plans to break international law by reneging on key parts of the withdrawal agreement. Boris Johnson has said his controversial legislation to override parts of his Brexit deal is needed to end EU threats to install a “blockade” in the Irish Sea. (IPA Service)