Theresa May has published information on the legal advice the government received on the implications of her withdrawal ‘deal’ with the EU.
Two sections of the information made available are likely to spell the end of her career and probably of her government.
Page 26 of the document spells out that the agreement has no firm end date or ‘any provision for its termination’ – and that the UK has no power to extricate itself from the agreement without the EU’s agreement:
The ‘Review’ section, on pages 31 and 32, address the provisions specific to Northern Ireland – the so-called ‘backstop’. Those provisions make clear that while either the UK or EU can say they think the provisions are no longer needed, all they can do is notify the other party and arrange to ‘meet to consider it‘:
6. The first paragraph provides that if at any time after the end of the implementation period the EU or the UK considers that the Protocol is, in whole or in part, no longer necessary to achieve the objectives set out in Article 1(3) and should cease to apply, in whole or in part, it may notify the other party, setting out its reasons.
7. The conditions in Article 1(3), as described above, are that the Protocol is necessary “to address the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland, maintain the necessary conditions for continued North-South cooperation, avoid a hard border and protect the 1998 Agreement in all its dimensions.” These conditions would be met if the parties had established alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border.
32 EU Exit: Legal position on the Withdrawal Agreement
8. Under the second paragraph of Article 20, within six months of receiving such a notification, the Joint Committee must meet at ministerial level to consider it,
But the fact that the UK’s hands are tied and can only be freed if the EU agrees is spelled out clearly:
The Journal newspaper in the Irish Republic recognised the significance of the wording in no uncertain terms:
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has been speaking to MPs and has attempted to emphasise that the agreement says both parties must use their ‘best endeavours’ to end the agreement and are required to do so on a ‘good faith’ basis.
But the hollowness of any hope of unilateral escape by means of a claim of bad faith is clear in section 11 of the advice document’s annex:
The released document can be downloaded here.
To all realistic intents and purposes, the draft Withdrawal Agreement binds the UK to May’s desperately bad ‘deal’ with the EU for as long as it suits the EU.
Now that May has been forced to put the obvious truth on the official record, the vote on her deal next week looks unwinnable for the lame-duck PM.
And Labour’s motion of no confidence will be hot on the heels of the loss.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.