Brexit : Nothing has changed – Geoffrey Cox delivers his legal advice

In his legal advice on Theresa May’s Strasbourg agreement, Cox said that new provisions “reduce the risk” of the UK being “indefinitely and involuntarily” held in the backstop, but said that “the legal risk remains unchanged” that the UK would have no legal means of exiting without EU agreement.

“I now consider that the legally binding provisions of the Joint Instrument and the content of the Unilateral Declaration reduce the risk that the United Kingdom could be indefinitely and involuntarily detained within the Protocol’s provisions at least in so far as that situation had been brought about by the bad faith or want of best endeavours of the EU.

“It may be thought that if both parties deploy a sincere desire to reach agreement and the necessary diligence, flexibility and goodwill implied by the amplified duties set out in the Joint Instrument, it is highly unlikely that a satisfactory subsequent agreement to replace the Protocol will not be concluded.

“But as I have previously advised, that is a political judgment, which, given the mutual incentives of the parties and the available options and competing risks, I remain strongly of the view it is right to make.

“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 remained the same, no internationally lawful means of exiting the protocol’s arrangements, save by agreement.”

Best for Britain supporter Layla Moran MP said: “This is a disaster for the government. This must be the final nail in the coffin of this awful deal.

“There should be no lingering doubts: this deal will leave us trapped and surrenders our sovereignty. It doesn’t ‘take back control’ as Leavers wanted, and it’s a million miles away from what Remainers want.

“The government tried to pull the wool over parliament’s eyes last time and flopped. MPs must vote down this wretched deal, extend Article 50 and back the only credible route out of this Brexit mess – a public vote.”

More soon…