Withdrawal Agreement: Attorney General’s legal opinion on the Joint Instrument and Unilateral Declaration - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 12th March 2019.

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Photo of Lord Keen of Elie Lord Keen of Elie The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Ministry of Justice) 6:30 pm, 12th March 2019

I am obliged to the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York. I agree with his observation that ultimately we are concerned with a political, not legal, decision. We have to remind ourselves that the withdrawal agreement is the means to an end, not the end in itself. Either we leave on 29 March without any deal in place, because the law has already determined that that is our exit date, or we can leave sensibly, with a withdrawal agreement that takes us into the realms of further negotiation for our future relationship. There is no reason to suppose that as a consequence of that further move we are ever going to find ourselves in the backstop, let alone considering how to come out of it.