Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general, has delivered his legal advice to cabinet and it confirms that nothing has changed.
The legal advice deals a significant blow to the prime minister’s hopes of overturning MPs’ 230-vote rejection of her Withdrawal Agreement in the second “meaningful vote” on the deal in the House of Commons..
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said Cox had confirmed that “no significant changes” had been secured to the Withdrawal Agreement and the government’s strategy was “in tatters”.
Cox said that documents agreed in Strasbourg “reduce the risk that the United Kingdom could be indefinitely and involuntarily detained” in the backstop by EU bad faith or a failure by Brussels to use its “best endeavours” to negotiate a permanent deal on the future relationship.
But he warned that the question of whether a satisfactory agreement on a future UK/EU relationship can be reached remains “a political judgement”.
And he said that “the legal risk remains unchanged” that if no such agreement can be reached due to “intractable differences”, the UK would have “no internationally lawful means” of leaving the backstop without EU agreement.
Keir Starmer said in a tweet: “Attorney general confirms that there have been no significant changes to the Withdrawal Agreement despite the legal documents that were agreed last night. The government’s strategy is now in tatters.”
NO LAWFUL MEANS OF EXITING.
Attorney general states in his advice letter:
“however the legal risk remains unchanged that 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 remain the same, no internationally lawful means of exiting the protocols arrangements, saved by agreement.