Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Opinion

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:39 pm on 12th March 2019.

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Photo of Nigel Dodds Nigel Dodds Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Reform and Constitutional Issues), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Brexit), DUP Westminster Leader 12:39 pm, 12th March 2019

I join others in commending the Attorney General, and I pay tribute to him for his dealings with us and for holding entirely to his word in delivering a totally objective and fair legal analysis and opinion on whatever came back. I pay tribute to him publicly, in addition to what I have said to him privately in that regard.

In relation to reducing the risk of being held in the backstop by the EU acting in bad faith or for want of best endeavours, does the Attorney General agree with paragraph 29 of his previous advice that all the EU

“would have to do to show good faith would be to consider the UK’s proposals, even if they ultimately rejected them. This could go on repeatedly without such conduct giving rise to bad faith or failure”?

If it is not a question of bad faith, and if it is just a question of the two sides not being able to reach agreement, he says in paragraph 19 of today’s legal opinion that the “legal risk remains unchanged”.

We already know what the Irish Government and others see as the ultimate destination for Northern Ireland—the backstop is the bottom line. From what the Attorney General is saying today, provided there is no bad faith, the fact is that Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom could be trapped if the EU does not agree with the United Kingdom to a superseding agreement.