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

No, I do not agree. The position is more nuanced than that. The pattern of refusing to accept reasonable proposals such as alternative arrangements that could not be said to compromise fundamental interests at the border would be raised immediately—a prima facie question. A pattern of consistent refusal would raise a prima facie question over the best endeavours and good faith clause. As my hon. Friend will have seen, some of these provisions are already in the joint instrument, including systematic conduct, declining to consider, declining to be flexible and declining to consider adverse interests. These best endeavours duties are real duties that are contained in commercial contracts all the time. They are litigated and brought to court, as he will know. We must not allow our fears to run away with us. We need to trust ourselves. We can make the leverage of the backstop as powerful an argument for them not to remain in it as it is for us.