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PM's religious freedom envoy quits over Brexit law changes

by Will Maule
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The Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), Rehman Chishti, has resigned over the government's new Brexit bill, which has been criticised by some as an ill-advised attempt to override key parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. 

Posting his resignation letter on Twitter, Rehman Chishti MP said can’t support Internal Market Bill in its current form, because he harbours concerns that the UK is "unilaterally breaking its legal commitments under the Withdrawal Agreement". 

"Given our different views on the Internal Market Bill," Chishti wrote, "I regret that I must step down from my role as your Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief." 

Chishti continued in his letter: "Having read your letter to colleagues, as well as wider statements on the matter, I will not be able to support this Bill on a matter of principle.

"I feel strongly about keeping the commitments we make; if we give our word, then we must honour it. Voting for this bill as it currently stands would be contrary to the values I hold dearest." 

The MP said it had been a "real honour and pleasure" to serve as the Special Envoy, campaigning on a variety of issues related to the protection of religious freedom, including getting governments across the globe to release prisoners of conscience during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chishti has also been instrumental in ensuring that the government implemented a series of recommendations made by a landmark 2019 report by the Bishop of Truro, which examined the exponential rise of Christian persecution across the world.

As of Monday afternoon, five former UK Prime Ministers have spoken out in opposition to the Internal Market Bill. Tory PMs Theresa May, David Cameron and Sir John Major, along with Labour's Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, have all expressed reservations about the plan, which would allow for the amending of protocol related to the Northern Ireland border and customs arrangements.



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