U.K. legal advice confirms London can't unilaterally leave Brexit backstop

07 December, 2018, 15:12 | Author: Gerard Cortez
  • Britain's May launches high-stakes parliamentary debate on Brexit plan

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said MPs faced a choice ahead of a vote on her Brexit deal: approving her deal or facing an exit with no deal or even the reversal of Brexit.

But the party's 10 MPs would not back the Prime Minister if her Brexit deal, including the controversial Northern Ireland backstop measure, survives.

Nomura said on Friday that "Referendum 2.0" could become its "base case" if Theresa May's Brexit deal is rejected by parliament next week, meaning the bank would see it as the most likely future scenario on Brexit.

Opening the third day of debate in the House of Commons over the European Union withdrawal agreement, the chancellor accepted that leaving the European Union would have an economic cost but added that the deal Mrs May had negotiated "minimises that cost". "Do we extend what I call the implementation period?"

Sir Graham Brady, who chairs the 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs, told reporters on Thursday that unless May could provide more clarity on how the United Kingdom could leave the "backstop" the vote should be postponed.

'We built exitbrex.it to be the quickest and easiest way for people to let their MP know how they feel about Brexit'.

"This has serious implications for the future of the country", he said.

"How could a serious member of Parliament vote for nothing more than a wish list?" he said.

Many lawmakers were also angry over being shown what they described as a summary, not the full legal advice on May's Brexit deal which her government had seen.

The DUP, May's one-time Northern Irish allies, warned on Wednesday that while they wouldn't vote for the Brexit deal, if the accord is thrown out by Parliament, then they would support the government in any subsequent confidence vote. All this advice reveals is the central weaknesses in the Government's deal.

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The advice, from Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, the country's top law officer, examines the legal effect of the proposed backstop arrangement, or Northern Ireland protocol, which is a fallback measure created to maintain an invisible border in Ireland. But the defeat demonstrated the fragility of May's government, which does not have a majority in Parliament.

Both opponents and allies alike have spent days criticising the agreement, especially the backstop, meant to ensure there is no return to a hard border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.

The backstop is intended as a temporary measure, but pro-Brexit lawmakers say it could leave Britain tied to the European Union indefinitely and unable to strike new trade deals around the world.

The start of the five-day debate on the deal has also laid bare the scale of opposition to it on both sides of the Commons.

Concerns about the backstop are a key driver of opposition to the deal among both May's own Conservative lawmakers and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her minority government.

Nomura thinks a no-deal Brexit would "push sterling lower, lead to higher inflation, a sharp recession and (contrary to the BoE's mechanical projection) looser monetary policy".

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox aired that concern, saying that a majority in favour of staying in the European Union in parliament "may attempt to steal Brexit from the British people".

A Downing Street spokeswoman rejected suggestions that the Withdrawal Agreement could be tweaked ahead of next week's vote to take account of concerns expressed by MPs.

Graham Brady, chair of the so-called 1922 committee which represents Conservative lawmakers, said he would welcome a delay to the vote to help May provide clarity over one of the most contentious parts of her plan - the Northern Irish backstop.

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