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

As my hon. Friend knows, that is not a legal question. We have reached a deal. The House must make a judgment on this deal. If it had been possible to secure a unilateral right of termination, it would have been secured. It was not secured because the European Union asked for an absolute guarantee at the Northern Irish border, but has said that it is temporary; that is written into the agreement. It may well be that the word “temporary” is not enforceable, in the sense that this will subsist even in the event of negotiations breaking down, but that is a clear indication that the backstop cannot subsist forever; and, in my view, as a matter of European Union law, it cannot.