[9th Allotted Day]

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 4:23 pm on 15th January 2019.

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Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Conservative, Gainsborough 4:23 pm, 15th January 2019

You have selected amendment (b) to be voted on tonight, Mr Speaker. It is obvious that one of the problems with this agreement is the Northern Ireland backstop. We have no ability to end it unilaterally, and no end date has been set. My amendment addresses that problem by proposing that

“if it becomes clear by the end of 2021 that the European Union will not agree to remove the Northern Ireland backstop, the United Kingdom will treat the indefinite continuation of the backstop as a fundamental change of circumstances”,

and will therefore abrogate those parts of the withdrawal agreement. This is a vital point because, under international law, if you sign a treaty saying that under the treaty something will be temporary and it turns out to be permanent, or semi-permanent, you surely have the right to abrogate those parts of the treaty. I ask those who say that amendment (b) is defective in law to look at my amendment (r), which sets out international law in this regard and it would be perfectly possible, allowable and in accordance with precedent under international law for the Government when they sign this treaty to issue what is called a letter of reservation making it clear.