Peter Kyle 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 (81 words)

Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Opinion

(1st reading: House of Commons)
Peter Kyle Excerpts
Tuesday 12th March 2019

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Attorney General
Mr Geoffrey Cox Portrait The Attorney General - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 1:29 p.m.

No, no, no. What I said to my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg) was that we would not do it in breach of the law. We are permitted, in a case of fundamental change of circumstances, to withdraw by the law. If such a change of circumstance came about—either because of some fundamental political change in Northern Ireland or some fundamental change of circumstance going to the essential basis of the agreement—then we would have the right to withdraw. But in all normal, envisageable and predictable circumstances, particularly while we are negotiating a subsequent agreement to the pace and accelerated timetable that this instrument now requires, we would not do so and it would be wrong to do so—wrong because it would be a breach of our obligations and wrong because this is a law-abiding country.

Peter Kyle Portrait Peter Kyle (Hove) (Lab) - Hansard

The Attorney General said that it is highly unlikely that through the best endeavours they cannot reach an agreement. For the past four months, the Government have been in Brussels trying to replace the backstop with alternative measures and they have come back empty-handed. The negotiations have not delivered, despite the best endeavours. Is it not the case that the very situation that he describes in two years’ time as being highly unlikely is the situation we are in right now?

Mr Geoffrey Cox Portrait The Attorney General - Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 1:32 p.m.

No, no, no. We have not been attempting to secure alternative arrangements now. We have been putting forward the fact that, in the future, all those alternative arrangements are likely to exist, so the European Union has responded by saying, “We will set up a new, special negotiating track, we will negotiate with an increased urgency and to a new timetable and we will implement these”—they have defined them—“customs procedures and technologies and so on.” So it is not right to say that the same situation arises now. These systems will be developed over time and that is the purpose of the working group that the Union has agreed to set up with this country.