“You have a community that feels things are really not working in a way they like or understand, you have unnecessary barriers to trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.

“All we’re saying is you can get rid of it without endangering the EU single market,” he told reporters.

Opening the bill’s second reading debate, Liz Truss told MPs she could ‘absolutely confirm’ that it was ‘both necessary and legal’ and that the government was compelled to act because ‘we exhausted all other avenues”.

The Foreign Secretary said backbench MPs who are unhappy with her approach should try to persuade the EU to change its approach, adding that “the worsening situation in Northern Ireland” can no longer be left “adrift”.

“There is no need for the EU to react negatively, nor will it be worse off as a result of this legislation,” she said. “These issues are very small in the context of the single market, but they are of crucial importance for Northern Ireland.”

The law will replace large parts of the protocol, eliminating almost all border controls and weakening the powers of the European Court of Justice.

Ministers say there is a need to end the political paralysis in Belfast, with the DUP boycotting the Stormont Assembly until controls on goods in the Irish Sea are lifted.

“Brashly breaking a solemn treaty”

Government sources have insisted they are not worried about a major rebellion, although several Tory backbenchers have spoken out against the legislation.

Andrew Mitchell, former international development secretary, warned: “The bill brazenly breaks a solemn international treaty, undermines our international reputation and threatens a trade war at a time when our economy is stagnating.

Simon Hoare, the chairman of the Northern Ireland Select Committee, said it suggested his party was “not fit for government” and had lost sight of “the importance of our reputation” as a country.

“For a Conservative colleague, it is shameful to report this to the Conservatives. Think what this does to the reputation of our party and the reputation of our nation, because both are in jeopardy, ”he told his fellow MPs.

Julian Smith, who served as secretary for Northern Ireland under the prime minister, said it was “a shifting activity from the main task of doing everything we can to negotiate a better protocol deal” and that Mr Johnson should instead open talks with EU leaders.

“We risk further inflaming the talks we are having with the EU and we risk prolonging instability for Northern Irish businesses, not to mention putting the whole of the UK at risk of trade and tariff retaliation.” , he warned.