Less than two weeks to go until the UK exits the EU – or not?

 

After last week’s votes in the Commons on Thursday, the Prime Minister will put her withdrawal deal to the Commons for a third time on Tuesday. If it is passed she will ask the Council of Ministers of the EU for an extension until 30 June. If it is rejected she will ask for a longer extension and the UK will participate in the election of MEPs on 23 May.

Any extension requires unanimous agreement from all 27 Member States. There is a possibility that this may not be obtained in which case 29 March remains ‘exit day’ – or does it? Watch this space for ferocious times in Parliament in the final week before ‘exit day’ for a motion calling on the government to revoke the article 50 notice – and then to give the EU a further article 50 notice? Interesting discussion of the legalities of this can be found at http://goodlegaladvice.co.uk/?p=12486

After Speaker Bercow’s decision this afternoon not to allow the government to bring back its defeated motion of last week for a second time, we may soon be hearing about the ‘p’ word – prorogue.

Going through the motions. What’s on the menu tonight in the Commons.

 

  1. The government motion.

“That this House declines to approve leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship on 29 March 2019; and notes that leaving without a deal remains the default in UK and EU law unless this House and the EU ratify an agreement.”

  1. The amendment to the government motion from Jack Dromey and Dame Caroline Spelman which states “this House rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship”.
  2. The ‘Malthouse Compromise’ which sets out the process for a “managed no-deal”. It requests:
  • The government publish tariff schedules
  • An extension of leaving to 22 May 2019
  • ‘Mutual standstill agreements’ between the UK and EU until the end of 2021, including payments to the EU
  • A unilateral guarantee of citizens’ rights

The third and fourth parts of the process look like the withdrawal agreement transition period but lasting another year and with no backstop at the end. Unlikely to be accepted by the EU.

 

The Brexit votes. One down two to go.

 

After the defeat of the Prime Minister’s revised withdrawal deal last night, Parliament today votes on whether to accept a no-deal exit from the EU on 29 March, and, if not, it will proceed to a third vote tomorrow on whether to ask the EU for an extension to the article 50 notice. Today’s vote is a free vote for MPs of the Conservative and Unionist Party and it is likely that the House will vote not to exit on 29 March without a deal.

The crunch comes with the third vote. An extension has to be asked for otherwise whatever Parliament decides we are out of the EU at 11 pm on 29 March. An extension for how long? Will the EU Member States grant such an extension, something that requires unanimity among the 27? Mr Juncker has indicated that a short extension might be possible, up to extension the elections for Members of the European Parliament, which run between 23 and 26 May – it is almost inconceivable that the UK could participate in these. It is possible that the extension could be granted up to 30 June the day before the new Parliament sits. There have been other indications that an extension will only be granted if the UK can explain what the purpose of the extension sought would be.

It should also be noted that, as held by the ECJ in Case C-621/18 Wightman and Others v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, the UK would still remain free unilaterally to withdraw its notice under article 50 “as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU, and any possible extension, has not expired.”

If a short extension is granted, the UK would have to amend the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 accordingly. Furthermore, it is likely that the EU Member States would feel unable to grant a further extension as EU Member States are required to participate in the elections to the European Parliament. If the UK were to remain in the EU beyond 1 July, it would be required to hold the elections to the European Parliament but that would raise problems with the number of MEPs. Under Plan A, the current elections allocate seats to countries on the assumption that the UK will not be a Member State at the date of the elections. There is a Plan B to allow for elections on the basis of the 2014-19 allocation in the event that the UK is still a Member State at that date. If Plan B comes into effect, 73 UK MEPs have to be elected, and 73 MEPs in other Member States elected under Plan A have to pack their backs and go home.

Whatever the results of the votes today and tomorrow, the prospect of a no-deal exit from the EU remains, whether on 29 March, 24 May or 1 July.

Brexit and the return of Solomon Binding? The new UK-EU agreements on the Northern Ireland ‘backstop’.

 

 

Those of us of a certain age will remember the ‘solemn and binding’ undertaking given by TUC leaders to Harold Wilson following the rejection of his proposals for industrial relations reform in 1969. This swiftly turned into the fictitious comic character, ‘Solomon Binding’? Is Solomon’s hand hovering over the three documents that emerged after the Prime Minister’s  meeting in Strasbourg last night and which will be put before the House of Commons tonight.

First there is the INSTRUMENT RELATING TO THE AGREEMENT ON THE WITHDRAWAL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE EUROPEAN ATOMIC ENERGY COMMUNITY 

The agreement refers to arbitration under the mechanisms already established in the Protocol in the event that a party acts with the objective of applying the Protocol indefinitely and that a ruling by the panel would be binding on both parties. It does not alter the text of the withdrawal agreement. There is no time limit on the backstop. There is no procedure for either the UK or the EU to terminate the backstop unilaterally.

The key parts of the agreement as regards the backstop are set out below.

 

  1. A subsequent agreement replacing the customs and regulatory alignment in goods elements of the Protocol could stand alone or form part of a wider agreement or agreements on the future relationship, depending on the progress of the wider negotiations. Alternative arrangements, which supersede the Protocol in whole or in part, in accordance with Article 2 of the Protocol, are not required to replicate its provisions in any respect, provided that the underlying objectives continue to be met. In the event that the agreement needs to stand alone due to delays in progress on the wider negotiations, the parties will aim at establishing this agreement very rapidly after the end of the transition period in full respect of the parties’ respective legal orders.
  2. The Union and the United Kingdom agree that once negotiations on alternative arrangements have been completed to the satisfaction of both parties, the outcome will be transposed into a subsequent agreement. The subsequent agreement transposing the alternative arrangements will be applied as soon as possible after its signature, if necessary and appropriate by means of provisional application, in line with the applicable legal frameworks and existing practice.
Compliance and unilateral suspension
  1. The Union and the United Kingdom agree that it would be inconsistent with their obligations under Article 5 of the Withdrawal Agreement and Article 2(1) of the Protocol for either party to act with the objective of applying the Protocol indefinitely. Should the Union or the United Kingdom consider the other party was acting in this way after the Protocol became applicable, it could make use of the dispute settlement mechanism enshrined in Articles 167 to 181 of the Withdrawal Agreement.
  2. If a dispute arises in relation to Article 5 of the Withdrawal Agreement and Article 2(1) of the Protocol, the Union and the United Kingdom will immediately enter into consultations in the Joint Committee. They will endeavour to resolve the dispute in a timely manner, with the aim of reaching a mutually agreed solution. With a view to facilitating such a solution, each party will provide a written reasoned justification of its respective position and will respond in writing to the other.
  3. Under the dispute settlement mechanism, a ruling by the arbitration panel that a party acts with the objective of applying the Protocol indefinitely would be binding on the Union and the United Kingdom. Persistent failure by a party to comply with a ruling, and thus persistent failure by that party to return to compliance with its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement, may result in temporary remedies. Ultimately, the aggrieved party would have the right to enact a unilateral, proportionate suspension of its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement (other than Part Two), including the Protocol. Such a suspension may remain in place unless and until the offending party has taken the necessary measures to comply with the ruling of the arbitration panel.

 

Second, there is joint statement supplementing the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK 

The meat of the statement is in paragraph six which sets out

 

6 Fifth, given the Union’s and the United Kingdom’s firm commitment to work at speed on a subsequent agreement that establishes by December 31st, 2020 alternative arrangements such that the backstop solution in the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland will not need to be applied, a specific negotiating track will be established at the outset and as part of the negotiations to lead the analysis and development of these alternative arrangements. This dedicated track will consider the use of all existing and emerging facilitative arrangements and technologies, with a view to assessing their potential to replace, in whole or in part, the backstop solution in the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.
That assessment will include an evaluation of their practicability and deliverability in the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland. By virtue of being embedded in the overall negotiation structure, the negotiating track on alternative arrangements will be able to take account of progress made in the wider negotiations on the future relationship, in particular on goods regulations and customs.
In addition, and in support of their work on alternative arrangements, both the Union and the United Kingdom will consult with private sector experts, businesses, trade unions, the institutions established under the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement, and appropriate involvement of parliaments. In the first instance, the progress concerning alternative arrangements will be assessed at the first high level conference envisaged by the Political Declaration. To ensure that the negotiations are concluded in good time, further progress will be reviewed at each subsequent high level conference.

Thirdly, there is the UK’s unilateral declaration concerning the Northern Ireland Protocol. The third paragraph deals with a situation where there is a breach by the EU of the parties’ obligation under Article 5 of the withdrawal agreement which states “The Union and the United Kingdom shall, in full mutual respect and good faith, assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from this Agreement”.

 

“The United Kingdom wishes to record its understanding of the effect of this provision if, contrary to the intentions of the parties, it is not possible for them to conclude an agreement which supersedes the Protocol in whole or in part due to a breach of Article 5 of the Withdrawal Agreement by the Union. The United Kingdom would not consider its application to be temporary in these circumstances, as in its view the Protocol would then constitute a permanent relationship between the Union and the United Kingdom. Article 1(4) makes clear this is not the Parties’ intention. If under these circumstances it proves not to be possible to negotiate a subsequent agreement as envisaged in Article 2 of the Protocol, the United Kingdom records its understanding that nothing in the Withdrawal Agreement would prevent it from instigating measures that could ultimately lead to disapplication of obligations under the Protocol, in accordance with Part Six, Title III of the Withdrawal Agreement or Article 20 of the Protocol, and under the proviso that the UK will uphold its obligations under the 1998 Agreement in all its dimensions and under all circumstances and to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.”

 

The Attorney General is expected to produce his advice to the House of Commons on the legal effect of these three documents later this morning in advance of the vote scheduled for later today.

 

 

No deal and jurisdiction

 

A few interesting developments on jurisdiction in the event of a no-deal Brexit on 29 March.

  1. On 1st April 2019, the UK would become a contracting party to the Hague Convention on Choice of Courts Agreement 2005 in its own right (it currently participates through the EU’s ratification). The UK government deposited its instrument of ratification on 28 December 2018 – while still a member of the EU, which has exclusive competence over jurisdiction.
  2. The European Commission set out its position in a notice on 18 January. EU rules on enforcement of UK judgments in the EU under the Brussels Regime will no longer apply even where the judgment was handed down before the withdrawal date, or the enforcement proceedings were commenced before the withdrawal date. Enforcement of such a judgment in a Member States will be subject to its national law. However, where the instrument concerned requires exequatur, a UK court’s judgment which has been exequatured but not yet enforced in a Member State before the exit date, will still be enforced under the Brussels Regime.
  3. The draft Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 would see the end of the Brussels Regime and the Lugano Conventions. These regimes and the domestic legislation that implements them will, for transitional purposes, continue to apply in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to determine jurisdiction for proceedings commenced in the UK before exit day. Judgments obtained in EU and EEA States will continue to be enforced under these regimes where proceedings were initiated before the withdrawal date.

 

The Sun newspaper reported today that Ladbrokes has put the odds at 3/1 that the UK will leave the EU without a deal before April 1, 2019, although it is not clear whether or not this was before the passage in the House of Commons tonight of two resolutions, Sir Graham Brady’s and Dame Caroline Spelman’s.

 

Clearing up after a marine casualty: comfortable words from the Advocate-General.

As a matter of EU law, moving waste across borders can be an expensive bureaucratic nightmare. Regulation 1013/2006 on waste shipments lays down all sorts of notification, insurance, and other requirements that must be satisfied before any such shipment can take place.

The German owners of the MSC Flaminia got a taste of this in 2012. En route from Charleston to Antwerp with a cargo of nearly 5000 containers, including 151 stated to contain dangerous cargo, the vessel suffered a fire and a number of explosions. These left her in an unholy mess, with quantities of scrap metal, possibly contaminated sludge and water used to put out the fire slopping about everywhere. She ran for Wilhelmshaven and made arrangements for cleaning-up operations in Romania. The German environmental authorities then said “Not so fast”, arguing that all the rigmarole of the waste shipments directive had to be gone through. The owners argued that the exception in Art.1(3)(b) applied, which excises from the Regulation “waste generated on board vehicles, trains, aeroplanes and ships, until such waste is offloaded in order to be recovered or disposed of.” The government argued that this did not cover waste created by a casualty outside normal ship operations; a Munich court duly sent the issue to the ECJ.

The Advocate-General’s opinion came down clearly for the shipowners: there was no specific exception for waste arising from an accident or casualty, and no need to imply one. One suspects the ECJ will follow suit. The relief for shipowners is likely to be considerable: it means that cleaning-up operations can now proceed smoothly wherever is easiest. And a good thing too.

See Schifffahrts GmbH MSC Flaminia v Land Niedersachsen (Case C698/17), as ever available on BAILII (unfortunately in French).

New Year, New Regulations.

 

Two international regulations came into effect today and one EU regulation came into effect yesterday

 

  1. The IMO’s mandatory Data Collection System on fuel consumption under MARPOL Annex VI starts on 1 January 2019 for each ship of 5000 gross tonnage and above. The EU’s Monitoring Reporting and Verification Regulation on carbon dioxide emissions for Companies operating ships of over 5000GT which carry passengers or cargo for commercial purposes to or from European ports has been in force since 1 January 2018.

 

  1. The IMO’s amendments to the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code MSC.426(98) come into effect on 1 January 2019 for new and existing ships carrying IMSBC cargo. New individual schedules with specific carriage requirements have been introduced for the following Group B cargoes:

Sugarcane biomass pellets

Sand, mineral concentrate, radioactive material and low specific activity (LSA-I) UN 2912

Monocalcium phosphate (MCP)

Monoammonium phosphate (MAP) and mineral-enriched coating has been updated with Group B properties.

 

Shippers must shippers now declare whether a solid bulk cargo is classified as:

As HME (harmful to the marine environment), or non- HME. Overboard discharge restrictions will apply to HME solid bulk cargo.

3. Regulation (EU) No 1257/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 on ship recycling.

From 31 December 2018, large commercial seagoing vessels flying the flag of an eu Member State may be recycled only in safe and sound ship recycling facilities included in the european List of ship recycling facilities. Three UK yards are currently listed on the european list. Ship recycling facilities located in third countries and intending to recycle ships flying a flag of a Member State must submit an application to the Commission for inclusion in the European List. Two facilities in Turkey and one in the USA have been included on the list. As from 29 March 2019 2300 the UK will no longer be a member of the european union and the UK yards currently on the european list will have to reapply to be admitted as a third party state.

Brexit for beginners. A primer.

 

Now that Mrs May has seen off the challenge to her leadership of the Conservative Party, it may prove fruitful for all parties to take stock with where we are with the process of the UK leaving the EU – what some have called ‘Brexit’.

There are two stages in this process. There is the withdrawal from the EU itself and there is the negotiation of a new trade agreement between the UK and the EU. The latter cannot commence until after the UK has exited the EU but the parties can give some indication of their future intent. This is what the framework declaration does. The document that is intended to have legally binding effect is the Withdrawal Agreement which governs the terms on which the UK exits the EU. If there is no agreement, then there is a ‘cliff edge’ Brexit – with all that entails by way of possible shortages of food and medicine, lorry parks in Kent, uncertainty around the rights of UK citizens living and working in EU Member States.

The Withdrawal Agreement provides for an implementation period from exit day to 31.12.2020 during which time the UK will remain subject to all the rules and legislation of the EU but will not be able to participate in EU institutions – so no UK MEPs. In this period the UK and the EU will attempt to negotiate a trade deal. The UK will be free to negotiate trade deals with third party states but will be unable to implement them. The implementation period may be extended provided notice is given before 1 July 2020.

The three salient elements of the withdrawal agreement. (1) Reciprocal guarantees for the rights of UK citizens living and working in EU Member States and for citizens of EU Member States living and working in the UK. (2) Financial settlement of the UK’s accrued obligations as a Member of the UK, such as pensions for EU employees, in the period prior to exit day. This is to be paid as the obligations would have accrued had the UK remained a Member. Further financial payments will be required for the implementation period, including any extension. (3) A backstop in the event that no trade agreement has been reached by the end of the implementation period. This is contained in the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The third element is what is causing all the problems. At the end of the implementation period the UK as a whole would remain in a customs union with the EU and in addition Northern Ireland would be subject to some of the rules of the single market which would necessitate checks being carried out in the EU on certain classes of goods going into Northern Ireland.

The backstop is intended to be temporary and the Protocol states that it is not intended that it should form the basis of a permanent arrangement between the UK and the EU. On entering the backstop the UK would be no longer subject to the EU’s four freedoms, notably free movement of workers. The UK would no longer make payments to the UK other than in respect of its responsibility for accrued liabilities incurred during its period of membership. The UK would be constrained in acting on any trade deals with third party states as it would be prohibited from lowering tariffs below the EU’s common external tariff, and would also be prevented from obtaining a competitive advantage with the EU by lowering environmental standards[1], or labour and social standards[2], below those of the EU.

The backstop could be terminated by joint agreement of the UK and the EU or by reference to the arbitration proceeding established to deal with disputes arising under the agreement. It could not be unilaterally terminated by the UK. Although the technology for this does not currently exist, it is possible that in the future ‘maximum facilitation’ would be available to enable the necessary border checks without the creation of any hard border infrastructure. In this event, the rationale for the backstop would go and it would become possible for it to be terminated by either party either by reference to arbitration under the backstop procedure or by reference to the provisions of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969 that deal with the termination of treaties. It should be noted that the EU is unlikely to want the backstop to last for very long as it may give Northern Ireland, which will remain in the EU single market, an advantage over the Republic of Ireland. See paragraphs 20 and 21 of the Attorney General’s advice to the Prime Minister of 13 November 2019.

The question for any Prime Minister, whether they be Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat will be the same. Is there any alternative to the Withdrawal Agreement concluded by Prime Minister May? Absent any such alternative or agreement to the Withdrawal Agreement, the legal position is that there will be an abrupt exit from the EU at 23.00 on 29 March 2019 – with all the attendant chaos of trade disruption, shortages of food and medicines, lorry parks on the M20, chaos as to citizens’ rights.

Let us consider some of these alternatives.

– Norway plus. This cannot be negotiated now but could be on the table in the implementation period. It would require acceptance of freedom of movement of workers and continued financial contributions to the EU,  albeit at a lower level than the UK’s contributions as a member of the EU, and would constrain the UK’s ability to conclude trade deals with third party states. To quote the last words of Kenneth Williams ‘Oh, what’s the bloody point?’ We might as well remain in the EU.

–  Stay in the European Economic Area. We might argue that the UK remains a party to the European Economic Area Agreement on leaving the EU, but under article 126 this will have no effect. This provides: “The Agreement shall apply to the territories to which the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community is applied and under the conditions laid down in that Treaty, and to the territories of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Kingdom of Norway.” The Agreement would not apply in the territory of the UK. Furthermore, without a customs agreement there would still be the problem of the border in the Northern Ireland between the UK, a non-member state, and the Republic of Ireland, a member state.

– Revocation of the notice of withdrawal under article 50. The UK could stay in the EU either permanently or temporarily to buy time to renegotiate, although the latter option would seem to be ruled out by the caveat in the AG’s opinion that such withdrawal of the notice of withdrawal should not be ‘abusive’.

– Suspend the article 50 notice to allow more time for negotiation. Fine, if every other EU Member State agrees.

– Renegotiate the withdrawal agreement. The EU Member States have indicated that this will not happen. The most that seems likely is an insertion into the Framework Declaration of an intention to continue negotiating a trade agreement when the UK enters the backstop.  Maybe some encouraging words about maximum facilitation when it comes into existence. However, who knows, Prime Minister May, might be able to pull a unicorn out of the hat –  or Prime Minister Corbyn? This is what the Prime Minister has come back with today after her meeting with the EU>

“The EU made clear:

  • that it is their firm determination to work speedily on a future relationship or alternative arrangements which ensure no hard border by 31 December 2020 so that the backstop will not need to be triggered.
  • If the backstop was ever triggered, it would apply only temporarily and the EU would use its best endeavours to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop.
  • That the EU stands ready to embark on preparations so that negotiations on the future partnership can start as soon as possible.

As formal conclusions, these commitments have legal status and therefore should be welcomed.”

– Run a second referendum. This would require agreement on the questions to be asked (three or two?) and on the voting system to be used (first past the post or single transferable vote or alternative vote?). Time is tight, as the old song goes, so an extension to article 50 would be required, but not too long otherwise there is the problem of the scheduled elections to the European Parliament on 23 May 2019.

 

Parliament has to act. If it fails to do so, we have the ‘Thelma and Louise’ Brexit of crashing out without an agreement with the EU, as surely as the sun will rise on 30 March 2019.

 

[1] Ireland /Northern Ireland Protocol. Annex Four. Article 2.

[2]  Ireland /Northern Ireland Protocol. Annex Four. Article 4.

The backstop and the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

Two pieces of good news for Prime Minister May yesterday. She survived the ’48 Crash’ which precipitated a vote of confidence in her by Conservative MPs – which she won convincingly. Ouseley J threw out the application for judicial review of the article 50 notification brought by Susan Wilson. However, the problem of the backstop still remains and the Prime Minister is now attempting to secure an amendment to the Draft Withdrawal Agreement from the EU on this issue.

This blog’s attention now turns to the public international law implications of the ‘backstop’ in the Northern Ireland Protocol. Sir Edward Leigh MP is of the view that the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties will enable the UK to terminate the backstop on the ground of a fundamental change of circumstances under article 62.

https://www.edwardleigh.org.uk/news/full-stop-backstop

This is disputed by https://policyexchange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/…/How-to-Exit-the-Backstop.pdf which states:

“In international law, a fundamental change of circumstances is normally understood as relating to something external to the treaty. Moreover, the party invoking fundamental
change of circumstances must also show that the change “was not foreseen by the parties” (Article 62(1), VCLT). In this case, the possibility of the backstop becoming permanent is already foreseen and is indeed already causing concern. On the other hand, this foresight is also in tension with the stated intention that the Protocol is to apply only temporarily.”

It is possible that if a technically feasible system of maximum facilitation for frictionless border checks comes into existence, the backstop would be terminable without agreement with the EU under this article.

It would also be terminable under Article 60(1) of the VCLT  which provides:
“A material breach of a bilateral treaty by one of the parties entitles the other to invoke the breach as a ground for terminating the treaty or suspending its operation in whole or in part.”
Article 60(3)(b) of the VCLT provides that a material breach consists in “violation of a provision essential to the accomplishment of the object or purpose of the treaty”.  Article 2(1) of the Northern Ireland Protocol to the Draft Withdrawal Agreement provides for parties to use their “best endeavours”  to conclude “an agreement which supersedes this Protocol in whole or in part”. This obligation is fundamental to the object and purpose of the Protocol and a refusal by the EU to accept a maximum facilitation system could be regarded as a ‘material breach’.

 

More Lex Brexitaria. CJEU OKs AG’s opinion.

The Court of Justice has just announced its decision in Wightman. It confirms the opinion of the Attorney General published last week that the UK is free to withdraw its article 50 notice before 29 March 2019.

In today’s Press Release it is stated.

“In today’s judgment, the Full Court has ruled that, when a Member State has notified the
European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has
done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification.
That possibility exists for as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU
and that Member State has not entered into force or, if no such agreement has been
concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the
intention to withdraw from the EU, and any possible extension, has not expired.
The revocation must be decided following a democratic process in accordance with
national constitutional requirements. This unequivocal and unconditional decision must be communicated in writing to the European Council. Such a revocation confirms the EU membership of the Member State concerned under terms that are unchanged as regards its status as a Member State and brings the withdrawal procedure to an end.”

Another instalment in the Lex Brexitaria is expected later today in the judicial review application concerning article 50 in the Administrative Court which was heard last Friday.

 

In the light of the judgment, the current Prime Minister Mrs May has made  a statement at 15.30 in which she  announced a delay to tomorrow’s meaningful vote in the House of Commons on the Draft Withdrawal Agreement. The Prime Minister hopes to use this delay to address the concerns of MPs regarding the backstop. She could start by getting them to read paragraphs 20 and 21 of the Attorney General’s advice which points out that Northern Ireland will be in a more advantageous position with the EU than the rest of the UK in the event the UK enters the backstop.