Attorney General Legal Advice confirms: UK Locked in Backstop

After Attempts to hide the legal advice over the EU Brexit agreement, the government suffered two defeats, and was forced at the end to publish it. 

Attorney General  Geoffrey Cox defending himself in the commons

Below is the attorney general advice in full.

The  government was forced to release this morning  ( Wed 5 December 2018) after being defeated in the House of Commons last night .

The government first tried to table an amendment to the six opposition parties motion, referring the matter to the privileges committee, which would have taken months to reach conclusion regarding the ministers contempt of parliament. Then the government was defeated in the second vote of contempt of parliament.

The tellers confirm the government defeat in last night’s vote

The leader of the house then gave in . The The Attorney General’s Brexit legal advice  was then  published in full today. It warns the United Kingdom could be left in “protracted and repeated rounds of negotiations” over the Irish backstop. The Attorney General  found that the protocol setting out the terms of the backstop “does not provide for a mechanism that is likely to enable the UK lawfully to exit the UK-wide customs union without a subsequent agreement”. Despite assurances from both London and Brussels that it is intended to be temporary – the protocol would “endure indefinitely” under international law until another agreement takes its place. The advice noted “In the absence of a right of termination, there is a legal risk that the United Kingdom might become subject to protracted and repeating rounds of negotiations.” “This risk must be weighed against the political and economic imperative on both sides to reach an agreement that constitutes a politically stable and permanent basis for their future relationship.” he concluded “This is a political decision for the Government.”

Here is the legal advice in full:

Rt Hon Geoffrey Cox QC MP Attorney General; Attorney General’s Office; W1A 2AA Continue reading