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 Geoffrey Cox Geoffrey Cox The Attorney-General 12:39 pm, 12th March 2019

We have made a solemn pledge to the people of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland that the border will be guaranteed never to be a hard border. That required the United Kingdom to say that in all normal circumstances we will not depart from that pledge. I repeat the point that I made to my hon. Friend Mr Rees-Mogg: in the case of a fundamental change of circumstance, which is ultimately the sovereign right of this House and the Government to determine, the United Kingdom could withdraw, pursuant to customary international law. So it is not true to say that there is not ultimately the right of this House and the Government of the country at the time to exercise their discretion to do so in those circumstances. But in every other circumstance, we have said to the people of Northern Ireland, “We will ensure that your lives will be able to continue as they do now at the border.” I say that that act was worthy of this House, worthy of the Government and worthy of the British people, and it is one that is worthy of support.