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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

With respect to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Pittenweem, I must say that I entirely disagree with his analysis. The whole point of the present withdrawal agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol is to ensure that we adhere not only to the terms but to the spirit of the Belfast agreement. That is why the backstop has been formulated in the manner in which it has. We will leave the backstop only when, or if, there is a need to put in place alternative structures that do not require a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. I reiterate my belief that we will never actually enter the backstop in the first place. We have that period up to December 2020 in which to address this issue and it is not beyond the wit of man or alchemist to resolve such an issue.