Analysis warns of UK being trapped by Irish backstop arrangement

UK government publishes full Brexit legal advice

By Muhammad Mussa


U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has released the government’s Brexit legal advice on Wednesday after suffering a series of humiliating defeats in the House of Commons and being found in contempt of parliament.

The analysis by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox warns that under the terms of the Irish backstop arrangement, the U.K. will be trapped in a series of “protracted and repeated rounds of negotiations” in the years after the U.K. leaves the EU.

The six-page document admits that the U.K. could be trapped indefinitely by the arrangement after having argued that it would be able to end the arrangement unilaterally.

“In international law, the protocol would endure indefinitely until a superseding arrangement took its place,” Cox said in the document, further stating that the protocol would continue even if negotiations broke down between the two sides.

The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland — the only land border between the U.K. and the EU — and the government’s arrangements at preventing a hard border from being put in place is the main source of contention amongst the MPs on May’s deal.

On Tuesday, the government was found in contempt of parliament after six opposition parties launched legal proceedings against the ministers over their failure to publish the full legal analysis.

In an historic vote, the government suffered a humiliating defeat yesterday after a majority of MPs voted to pass a motion declaring government ministers, including Cox, to have been in contempt of parliament.

Furthermore, the government suffered two more losses after having being defeated on a vote that would protect the government from scrutiny and a vote that would strengthen the hand of parliament if the prime minister’s deal is voted down.