Two paragraphs in govt’s legal advice that seal May’s fate with the DUP


NI advice header.png

After the humiliation of three Commons defeats in a row yesterday, including an unprecedented finding of contempt against her government, Theresa May has this morning released the government’s legal advice on her draft Brexit deal.

It contains two paragraphs which must surely seal her fate – and that of her proposed agreement – as far as her former allies in the DUP are concerned.

A ‘third country’

Cox’s advice makes clear that May’s treaty would result in the UK becoming a ‘third country’ as far as Northern Ireland was concerned – requiring compliance checks on items crossing the border:

NI advice

This means regulatory checks would have to take place between NI and GB

A hard Irish Sea border

Cox also raises the possibility that the EU could decide that the Withdrawal Agreement no longer needed to apply to Britain, leaving Northern Ireland indefinitely in a separate status within a customs union with the Republic:

NI advice 1

They could, therefore, submit a formal notification to the Joint Committee arguing that the Protocol was no longer necessary in part and that the GB elements of the customs union should fall away, leaving only NI in the EU customs territory

Cox argues that this notification would not be successful, but as he admitted in the Commons on Monday, no one can be certain – and in his advice he notes that the EU’s ‘fundamental interests’ would withstand any legal attempt to negate them and that these would certainly include as a priority the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and avoiding a hard border within the island of Ireland as a priority:

While the duties to act in good faith and in particular to use best endeavours in negotiating a new agreement are forceful and precise, they could not require the parties to a negotiation to set aside their fundamental interests… For the EU, it can be assumed that avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland and protecting the 1998 agreement in all its dimensions are fundamental interests

These two paragraphs make it inconceivable that the DUP would support the deal – or, as the DUP’s statements have already made clear, any government that would try to pass it.

Geoffrey Cox’s full advice regarding Northern Ireland can be downloaded here.

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.


  1. The really good news is that Brexit is shown to be a incontrovertibly daft idea. Even the Tories can’t get it to work in their impoverished terms.

    … although I don’t expect any with that peculiar religious bent to admit it.

    1. Record not only “scratched” (your image RH) but stuck in the fucking groove. Please, oh please, do us a favour, enough of this smugness, for pity’s sake.

      1. Maybe you’re just a little bit miffed that the reality of Brexit is being exposed for what it is.

      2. Well, it’s good to know that somebody better informed than me knows what my position is about Brexit.

      3. Do you have another excuse for attacking the messenger with childish insults rather than addressing the issues that the realities of Brexit has exposed.

      4. Well, Paulo, if ‘stuck in the groove’ isn’t a description of the failure of the ‘Leave’ view to come up with anything other than unsustainable re-assertions in the face of mounting contrary evidence – I don’t know what is.

        As Steve H implies – the ‘ad hominem’ approach always confirms a defeated argument.

      5. Dear Quixote and Sancho,

        You are giving me far to much credit with regards to my position.

        Most, if not all, of my friends and relatives, including my wife, were and still are ardent remainers, I haven’t particularly challenged them on this, because my own position is pretty 50/50, but with some sympathy and leanings towards leave. (I voted remain) but, since they blamed it all on Corbyn and since I was moderately pleased with the LP manifesto; for the first time in about 15, wasted years, I took it upon myself to persuade them to stop blaming Corbyn, equally importantly, to judge him on his voting record,and on the things that mattered most during Those years. I argued that in order not to risk electoral suicide, Labour support for a second ref should wait until the Tories self imploded and I promised them, practically mortgaged my relationship with them, that they should understand why to wait, because it was pretty obvious to me, even two years ago, that they would.

        So, Sancho, am I miffed?

        My abiding interest and concern has been the apparent development of a mismatch between Starmer’s Brexit and the manifesto – I’m sure there will be plenty of skwawkers fed up to their crests, with my bleating on about that one when I can.

        I am sceptical about the current LP version of a
        Brexit, but I keep an open mind. I didn’t even know what Lexit mean’t when the ref came up. If you’d asked me then, I would have told you that it was a car. I am thankful to Skwawkers for introducing me to all of that.

        So, Sancho and Quixote read posts carefully and take care of those windmills.

  2. The really striking news is how many Blairites want to subvert democracy and hold a second referendum because they cannot accept the way the “lower orders” voted in the first referendum. Some are presently using their Commons speeches to denounce their Leave-voting constituents.

    I have no problem with holding another EU referendum in say 50 years’ time, though given the speed with which the Member States are falling to the extreme right as workers experience the strictures of the European Single Market and the Eurozone one has to wonder whether the EU will still be around by then.

    But to hold another referendum before implementing the result of the 2016 referendum because the ruling elite and the upper echelons of the middle class cannot stand the result, is an affront to British democracy, VERY damaging to Labour, and underlines why we need to mercilessly drive the Blairites out of our Party.

    1. “Blairites want to subvert democracy and hold a second referendum”

      Oh dear, oh dear. ‘Democracy’ defined by *not* having a vote – and those who suggest a vote defined as Blairites. We could abandon all future votes on anything, I suppose, if it doesn’t suit a 37% minority.

      Well … that went well in the Third Reich and the USSR, didn’t it?

    2. As a substantial majority of the electorate, Labour voters even more so, want a second vote it is hardly surprising that they include a few Blairites amongst their number.

      Rather than obsessing about the bogeymen it would perhaps be more constructive if you could build an argument that addresses the realities of Brexit and that also extends a little beyond your mantra of Brexit means Brexit.

    3. Those who do not want another referendum now that the consequences are much clearer than in 2016 are terrified of democracy. The common excuse is that they are sticking up for those poor Brexiters who really did know what they were voting for…. honest! Some may well have done but I certainly know many who didn’t and would welcome a chance to change their minds as no doubt would some who voted remain.

      One of the lamest excuses for not having another referendum is the ‘right’ might lose and throw a tantrum, how pathetic. The other excuse is “oh just get on with it and leave” It’s people who just couldn’t be bothered standing up to the racists in UKIP and the Little Englanders in the Tory Party who got us into this costly mess in the first place!

  3. I was looking through the TV listings yesterday evening searching for something interesting to watch and came across the following documentary on Al Jazeera which had just started a few minutes before. If you haven’t seen it check it out. It brilliantly sums up the Israeli states propaganda offensive, in which THEY – the Israelis – are the victims, and the Palestinians the aggressors/terrorists. I checked the Al Jazeera website to see if it was available on there, and it’s listed, but says it’s not available online at the moment. So I then checked on Youtube, and it’s on there (at the time of writing). It’s narrated by Roger Waters:

    1. Correct Allan, it is an excellent documentary.

      The Israeli Lobby always tries to make out they are the victims when in fact the IOF – Israeli Occupation Force, are merciless killers bent on removing all Arabs from their Palestine homes.

      There is a largely unseen battle going on in the Labour Party at the moment between Zionists at the core and Corbynites whom they are trying to destroy. Their latest weapon is the IHRA definition which they deploy at any opportunity, often against Jews who do not subscribe to Zionism.

      The so called ‘Labour Friends of Israel’ may have a few naive members who really do think it is ‘Working towards a Two State Solution’ as its motto says. However, in reality it has nothing to show for it for decades because it is actually working to protect the racist State of Israel and should therefore be called ‘The Labour Friends of Zionism’.

      It’s about time there was an open debate in the Labour Party about the incompatibility of Zionism with Socialism and how they are poles apart. For far too long, some of those who are aware of the corrosive effects of Zionism in the Party have been too terrified of confronting the danger for fear of being smeared and victimised. As Socialists we should have nothing to do with Zionism, it is corrupting our Party and deliberately damaging our chances of getting into Government.

    2. Allan – This article ‘confirms’ many of your own thoughts

      ……. the 77th Brigade is about Orwellian mind control. The dangers are obvious: who decides truth in any future conflict? And who decides the geographical, ideological and political boundaries involved. In modern propaganda wars, the front line does not start in Moscow – it starts in London, Glasgow and Cardif

  4. This agreement is not taking the UK out of the European Union. It essentially breaks up the United Kingdom union or we remain in a state of limbo inside the European Union with no say.

    If no agreement is reached we are due to leave automatically on 29 March 2019. I am sure that many people are under the assumption that we will be paying the settlement for current obligations and not paying any more. The agreement means that we will be paying into both the 2019 and 2020 budgets and possibly beyond that date. In fact we will still be paying in 2028 and possibly beyond then if no permanent arrangement is agreed.

    The agreement also sets in stone many of the policies which are causing such division and harm within the UK. It is up to the people of the UK to determine who to vote for based on their policies. If any future policies are limited by any withdrawal agreement then the whole future democratic process will the undermined.

    I find it astonishing that after all this time the EU have drawn up a 599 page withdrawal agreement to be put to our parliament yet our government has done little to come up with a full proposed future relationship deal which would render much of the withdrawal agreement unnecessary.

    At Mr May’s first announcement “her future relationship deal” was about 7 pages and then expanded to 26 pages when the declaration of the future relationship was released. In fact the document is as empty as the last tory manifesto. This is a government that has no ideas and lacks any direction. We should ideally be going back to the ballot box.

    The insurance policy line is a bit like the mis-selling of PPI.

    The legal advice published is also very slim considering the size of the withdrawal agreement.

  5. DUP will vote down deal but back Tories, says Nigel Dodds
    Mr Dodds told ITV’s Robert Peston: “Clearly if [the deal] is defeated, it would be somewhat illogical – having achieved our aim trying to get to a better deal – it would be illogical then to turn around the next day and say ‘let’s vote the government out’


  6. “The Deal” as I understand it falls well short of Brexit as originally envisaged by UKIP, the far right, the ProvoTories and sundry Little-Englanders.
    None of those people are natural Labour voters.
    The Labour Brexiters who cite EU neoliberalism’s opposition to public ownership as their motivation seem also to favour a hard exit.

    I’m glad I don’t have to argue that the same policy can serve socialism and fascism equally well.

    1. “I’m glad I don’t have to argue that the same policy can serve socialism and fascism equally well.”

      Precisely. The motives of the key Brexiteers are hardly secret – and they openly documented it in “Britannia Unchained”. And it wasn’t a tract for socialism or detachment from the US.

    2. Unless, something pretty surprising happens, I guess you’re right about the prerequisite of a hardish Brexit. It’s just that final point (and there are many versions of it) “that the same policy can serve socialism and fascism equally well”. We keep hearing that Brexit under the Tories is not and will not be a very pretty sight, well of course not. Practically any relationship with the neo liberal eu, leave or remain, is not exactly a good look under the Tories. Whether, leave or remain might look the better option under Labour still lacks evidence, ratification and definition.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: