The ‘Star Chamber’ of Brexit lawyers have delivered their own verdict on Theresa May’s revised deal following Geoffrey Cox’s fatal advice earlier, concluding that it does not meet the tests the Government set itself. Sir Bill Cash MP says that “in the light of our own legal analysis and others we do not recommend accepting the Government’s motion today.” No chance for May’s deal to get through now…
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Pressure is mounting on Theresa May to release the full legal advice given to her over the Irish backstop. Senior Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash sums up the issue succinctly, drawing a parallel with his own battle as Shadow Attorney General in the 2000s with Tony Blair over the legal advice he had received on the Iraq War:
“The Attorney General’s advice on critical constitutional issues is for Parliament and the country, not just for the Government. As shadow Attorney General I successfully pressured Blair and the Attorney General to produce legal advice on the Iraq war and it should happen again.”
In 2007, Theresa May herself wrote to Gordon Brown with a dossier of 100 accusations of breaches of the ministerial code under Blair’s government, including this particular entry:
“It emerged in April 2005 that Mr Blair did not tell his Cabinet about crucial legal advice on Iraq. The Prime Minister was forced to disclose the thirteen-page memorandum he received from Lord Goldsmith on the legality of the war. It was never shown to Cabinet or MPs, as Mr Blair should have under the Ministerial Code.”
Constitutionally, the Brexit deal is going to be of greater lasting significance than the Iraq War. If May refuses to release the full legal advice she will be doing exactly what she castigated Blair and Brown for…
Bill Cash, the original Brexiter, tells The Daily Politics he distinguishes…
“…between being in the customs union and a customs union… what a customs union means is something yet to be resolved.”
We will find out more later, though it looks like the government is proposing to copy large aspects of the EFTA court to resolve future trade disputes with the EU. As has been evident for a while. This meets the key Brexiteer requirement of ending the jurisdiction of the ECJ. There is going to be international arbitration post-Brexit, on the face of it this seems a pragmatic, voluntary way of doing it. At this stage a lot of key Brexiteers are on board…
Bill Cash: “The great advantage of the EFTA model is that it is completely independent of the EU yet follows the decisions of the ECJ for the most part, but not always.”
Mark Wallace, ConservativeHome: “There is a world of difference between international and supranational organisations; the EFTA court rules on the implementation of a static and mutually agreed set of rules, while the ECJ is an activist body, pursuing greater integration over the heads of national authorities.”
The Sun: “One answer could be to join the court of the European Free Trade Association — as used by Norway. EFTA president Carl Baudenbacher says it would allow Britain to trade freely while ditching the hated ECJ. It’s not often that Europe offers us a decent deal. We should take him up on it.”
Dominic Raab: “As a voluntary matter of practice, totally within our control, of course the UK will keep half an eye on what the EU does.”
Dan Hannan: “The objection to the ECJ is that it overrides national laws and rules with direct applicability. No objection to an arbitration mechanism. Immense difference between a court having direct jurisdiction in the U.K. and paying regard to overseas judgments (which we always do).”
Hugh Bennett, BrexitCentral: “The EFTA model is interesting because it certainly is different in the way it operates from the ECJ. There isn’t this principle of direct effect on UK law which is obviously a big issue with the ECJ. It’s not politically motivated in the same way the ECJ is.”
Bill Cash might be a fan but some Tory MPs are against the EFTA model. As always the Mogg is being difficult for the government:
Jacob Rees-Mogg: “One of the rulings of the EFTA court is that it wishes to be as close as possible to the European Court of Justice because it believes that there should be homogeneity. It doesn’t diverge from the European Court of Justice in normal circumstances.”
Naturally Remain newspapers and Kippers are calling the EFTA court model a climbdown but most Tory Brexiteers always knew there would be some form of international arbitration system. Let’s see what the government proposes today, but expect other prominent Brexiteers to come out in favour…
Back in those heady days of May, when the Prime Minister had just won a shock election victory and the party was united, it was reported that even the old ‘awkward squad’ had fallen in behind Dave.
All those weeks ago (4), at a meeting of the ’22, Bill Cash “stood up and gave an incredibly passionate defence of the Prime Minister and said it was time for the party to unite over Europe.” A Tory MP told the Spectator: “I’ve never heard him give such a human speech. It’s the only time he’s ever mentioned Europe and it’s been helpful.” Well even that didn’t last long.
Old Bill was spotted earlier this morning plotting away with EU troublemaker Bernard Jenkin. The two were seen deep in conversation on the Horseferry Road. Cameron on the breakfast menu?