[9th Allotted Day]

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 12:59 pm on 15th January 2019.

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Photo of Geoffrey Cox Geoffrey Cox The Attorney-General 12:59 pm, 15th January 2019

I will do in a moment. Let me get on because time is short and I need to move on.

On the backstop, there is, I would suggest to the House, an inconsistency. There are those who say in this House that the EU will do what is in its interests and that it will, cynically, entrap us in the backstop. They have said—can anybody doubt that this is true?—that the only real thing that is in the best interests of any nation or any organisation of nations is to have cordial relations of good will and co-operation with one’s neighbours. History has taught us that over the centuries. To entrap us in the backstop against the overwhelming political will of this nation would have precisely the opposite effect of cultivating those cordial relations of good will between ourselves and the European Union. Any future relationship will depend on good faith and good will. These assurances, which I accept do not have effect on the legal equation, in my view represent solemn statements of the President, the Council and the Commission, which to breach would be incompatible with the European Union’s continued standing in international relations and forums. But even if—