Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Position

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:49 pm on 3rd December 2018.

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Photo of Iain Duncan Smith Iain Duncan Smith Conservative, Chingford and Woodford Green 4:49 pm, 3rd December 2018

I start by welcoming without reservation my right hon. and learned Friend to his position. He knows that I have believed for many years that he should have filled this post.

I welcome my right hon. and learned Friend’s statement. Page 6 of his document refers to what is defined as “good faith”. He mentioned the International Court of Justice, so I hope he will not mind if I quote from one of its judgments referenced in footnote 8. He talked about how long the backstop should last and what defined “good faith”. The judgment states that

“the failure of the Parties to reach agreement, 16 years after the conclusion of”— earlier negotiations—

“does not itself establish that either Party has breached its obligation to negotiate in good faith.”

As my right hon. and learned Friend knows, his right hon. Friends on the Front Bench one by one have used good faith as their defence for being locked into this problem of the backstop and as their explanation of how we will get out. As a matter of law, is good faith required for best endeavours?