Just when many might have thought things couldn’t get much worse for the Prime Minister, she has been forced into disclosing the Attorney General’s advice on the legal effect of the Protocol to the EU Withdrawal agreement on Ireland and Northern Ireland.
It is difficult to reconcile this advice with many of the statements made by this Government in recent months.
The advice appears to confirm that the Prime Minister’s own ‘red lines’ have in fact been breached under this agreement.
Goods passing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland would be “subject to the declaration process” and the EU’s Court of Justice will still have jurisdiction when it comes to deciding whether Northern Ireland has complied with EU customs laws.
Paragraph 16 of the advice confirms that under international law this backstop arrangement “would endure indefinitely until a superseding agreement took place… [f]urther the Withdrawal Agreement cannot provide a legal means of compelling the EU to conclude such an agreement.”
The advice also makes plain that the agreement will lead to “legal uncertainty” and jeopardise trade deal negotiations with Third Countries.
It is difficult to recall a more challenging week for a UK government in recent times. Strong and stable? The wheels appear to be coming off.
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