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 Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on Exiting the European Union 4:49 pm, 3rd December 2018

I say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that there is something to see here. If the Government can decide which votes of the House of Commons to respect and which to ignore—as you said when ruling on a point of order on 13 November, Mr Speaker, it was not the opinion of the House of Commons that it wanted the full legal advice to be released, but the will—what does democracy mean in this place?

Now, I have a question for the Attorney General on which I want his legal advice. As he will be aware, the withdrawal agreement is legally binding, but the political declaration is not. Can he draw to the House’s attention a single example in international law of when a failure to act in good faith has successfully compelled one party in a negotiation to reach an agreement as extensive as the one that the Government hope to achieve and which is set out in the political declaration covering trade in goods and services, security, foreign policy, broadcasting, data and co-operation on a wide range of matters? If there is such an example, I would very much like to hear about it.