Chuka Umunna contributions to the Immigration (Armed Forces) Bill 2017-19


Tue 12th March 2019 Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Opinion (Commons Chamber)
1st reading: House of Commons
3 interactions (97 words)

Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Opinion

(1st reading: House of Commons)
Chuka Umunna Excerpts
Tuesday 12th March 2019

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Attorney General
Mr Geoffrey Cox Portrait The Attorney General - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 1:36 p.m.

Yes, I do. Given what is at stake for the people of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, for the credit and faith of the European Union, which will be on the line, and for our ability to measure its performance against the detailed timetables and procedures that are now in place, I simply do not believe that we will be unable to reach any agreement with them. I repeat: it is perfectly possible to approach this in stages—to agree several agreements. We will be able to agree something over the next two or three years and the first priority, which is set out in this instrument, is the subsequent agreement replacing the backstop.

Chuka Umunna (Streatham) (Ind) Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 1:36 p.m.

My preference would be an arrangement that does not necessitate a backstop. For all the words that the Attorney General has used, is it not the case that none of these things—the joint instrument, the unilateral declaration and the change to the declaration—facilitates an unconditional unilateral withdrawal by the UK from the backstop? More than that, for all the words that he has used, we will still end up paying a divorce bill of more than £50 billion, in part in return for a political declaration that has no legal force whatever. That is the key point.

Mr Geoffrey Cox Portrait The Attorney General - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 1:37 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman is not right about that. Under article 184 of the withdrawal agreement, there is a legal duty on the Union and the UK to negotiate a deal that is in line, and according to, the political declaration. He asks, is there any unconditional right to withdraw? With respect, I have answered that question. The only circumstance in which there would be an unconditional right to withdraw is if there were a fundamental change of circumstances pursuant to customary international law.