Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Opinion DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Chuka UmunnaMain Page: Chuka Umunna (Liberal Democrat - Streatham)
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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.
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.