Jim Nicholson MEP: Geoffrey Cox’s legal advice on the backstop was damning

Attorney general Geoffrey Cox QC MP explains his legal advice to MPs yesterday
Attorney general Geoffrey Cox QC MP explains his legal advice to MPs yesterday

The result of the vote in the House of Commons should come as no surprise to anyone.

There were no meaningful changes to the Withdrawal Agreement, specifically to the backstop.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

In reality, the joint instrument and the joint statement are nothing but legal gymnastics to try to paper over the cracks.

It made the division in the House of Commons a meaningful vote on meaningless changes.

Paragraph 19 of the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s legal advice is damning. ‘However, the legal risk remains unchanged if through no such demonstrable failure of either party, but simply because of intractable differences, that situation does arise, the United Kingdom would have, at least while the fundamental circumstances remained the same, no internationally lawful means of exiting the Protocol’s arrangements, save by agreement.’

We warned about the dangers of agreeing to the backstop in 2017.

As we predicted it has come back to haunt us.

What the government is effectively proposing is to kick the can down the road to 2020, where we will come back, full circle to the same problem of the backstop.

We want a deal. But, we want a good deal — a deal that will not compromise the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.

It is in the best interests of the EU and UK to use their best efforts to work towards a workable deal, in order to avoid a no deal Brexit.

Calm heads are needed now, and a short technical extension should be seriously considered.

Jim Nicholson MEP, Ulster Unionist, Brussels