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 Geoffrey Cox Geoffrey Cox The Attorney-General 4:49 pm, 3rd December 2018

I cannot. I cannot, without breaching the convention, disclose whether or not I was asked to advise on any particular point. But what I can say is that the question of termination clauses was most certainly raised in the negotiations, but the European Union declined to entertain those termination clauses. It did so because the backstop is envisaged as an absolute guarantee that in all circumstances, including that of no deal, there would be no hard border at the Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland border. Therefore, to have a termination clause would be a contradiction in terms. It would not be a guarantee if you can walk away from it. That is the decision the House must face—in the light of that, it must decide whether this is an arrangement into which it should, given the alternatives, enter.