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 Campbell of Pittenweem Lord Campbell of Pittenweem Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Defence) 6:30 pm, 12th March 2019

My Lords, I wanted to ask the noble and learned Lord to name an alchemist who ever succeeded in his determination to turn lead into gold, but perhaps that is for another occasion. Since we are talking about risk, it is important to remember that one risk that featured very strongly in noble Lords’ consideration of these matters is the possibility that anything that seemed to have the effect of recreating a border between the north and south of Ireland was a risk we were not willing to take. One reason for that was the fragility, albeit that it is still in existence, of the Belfast agreement. I say with due respect to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, that when one is considering risk, this is not crossing the road: it is a risk that could have the effect of bringing to an end many years of fragile peace. In those circumstances, it is hardly surprisingly that people want to be pretty certain, before that risk is taken, that to do so is not likely to lead to an adverse outcome.