Hammond Stumped on Crucial Backstop Question

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s legal advice to the Cabinet on the Northern Irish backstop was finally revealed to the public today, though on the basis of Philip Hammond’s appearance at the Treasury Select Committee this morning, Guido is not certain that the Cabinet have read it in that much detail themselves.

Under questioning from the SNP’s Stewart Hosie, the Chancellor failed to answer a pretty fundamental question on whether the backstop would mean that that the EU could offer third countries access to the UK’s market without the UK getting access to the third country’s market in return, as is the case with Turkey today.

As this 2016 European Parliament report on Turkey makes clear, third countries “do not have any obligation to conclude such agreements with Turkey. Indeed, it is more advantageous for these countries not to conclude preferential agreements with Turkey because they already have access to the Turkish market through the EU-Turkey CU.” This morning Hosie asked Hammond if this humiliating one sided arrangement would also apply to the UK under the backstop. He couldn’t answer…


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