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

It does make perfect sense. I have to say that I would have preferred to have seen a right of termination, mitigated and graduated, fairly balancing and apportioning risk, and only useable in a last resort, but the Union was not willing to agree to such a reasonable—and what I considered to be moderate—proposal. I agree with the hon. Lady, which is why I voted for the deal. It is sensible that that assurance can be given, and that is why the British Government have given it. I would say, though, that best endeavours is not—particularly now, with the context heightened and the benchmarks tightened—a meaningless duty, because best endeavours requires that a party should consider proposals that are contrary to its interests, and it may have to accept them. A party cannot go on refusing something that requires a reasonable adjustment in its position.