Trimble: UK Has Secured ‘Substantive Changes’ That Limit Backstop Impact

Good Friday Agreement architect Lord Trimble and Northern Irish constitutional expert Lord Bew have made a fresh intervention in the backstop debate, authoring a new paper, Nothing has changed? It has actually, for Policy Exchange today. Nobel Peace Prize-winning Trimble and Bew conclude that, despite the fact that there has been no textual change to the backstop itself, the Government’s Strasbourg concessions did deliver “substantive changes that will affect and limit the impact of the Irish backstop.” They agree that “the UK Government is now correct in asserting the right, in extremis, to appeal to international law under the Vienna Convention”…

Crucially, the paper explains that the EU has accepted “that the protection of the Good Friday Agreement may be entirely independent from the functioning of the Irish backstop.” Allowing the UK to leave the backstop without breaking its Good Friday Agreement obligations…

Trimble is a committed Brexiteer and Unionist, he has even gone to the lengths of launching a legal challenge against the Government to challenge the legality of the backstop under the Good Friday Agreement. The fact that he is now satisfied that there have been enough changes to limit the potential negative consequences of the backstop may well go some way to reassuring other Unionists and Brexiteers…

Trimble Serves Legal Notice on Government Over Backstop Breaking Good Friday Agreement

Lord Trimble, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning architect of the Good Friday Agreement, has formally commenced legal proceedings against the Government to challenge whether the backstop is illegal under the Good Friday Agreement. Guido can reveal the formal letter sent to the Government Legal Department ahead of the Judicial Review challenge, which the Government must respond to by 22 February. The three possible defendants are identified as Karen Bradley, David Lidington or the Prime Minister herself…

The case will argue that the backstop breaches two key laws – the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and the Union of Ireland Act 1800 – as well as the Good Friday Agreement itself. Under the Northern Ireland Act and the GFA, they say arrangements to avoid a hard border should have been negotiated bilaterally at the British-Irish intergovernmental conference. The EU has already allowed the UK and Spain to sign a bilateral agreement regarding Gibraltar, why can Northern Ireland not be resolved bilaterally as well?

The crowdfund for the challenge to the backstop is nearing its initial target. If Guido readers want to support the legal challenge too they can donate here

Trimble Taking Government to Court Over Backstop Breaking Good Friday Agreement

Lord Trimble, one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement, has announced plans to take the Government to court over the Irish backstop contravening the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. The former Northern Ireland First Minister received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in securing the Agreement…

Legal experts believe that the backstop could well be in violation of the Principle of Consent enshrined in the GFA. The Government will now face a judicial review seeking to ensure the backstop’s removal from the Withdrawal Agreement. The UK – and the EU – negotiators cannot simply swat this aside

Trimble Accuses Ireland of “Riding Roughshod” Over Good Friday Agreement

Former Northern Ireland First Minister Lord Trimble has lashed out at the Irish Government, accusing them of undermining the Good Friday Agreement with their conduct in the Brexit negotiations. Trimble, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his instrumental role in securing the Good Friday Agreement, accused Leo Varadkar’s Government of “riding roughshod over its terms and violating its spirit”.

Writing in the foreword of a new Policy Exchange paper, Trimble says that Northern Ireland is at risk of becoming an “effective EU protectorate” without the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly, which “would be an appalling breach of the principle of consent, which runs through the Agreement”.

However the two sides try to dress it up, there is no disguising the fact that the backstop as the EU is currently proposing would fundamentally alter the status of Northern Ireland within the UK. The EU’s rhetoric about respecting the GFA is hollow as long as they keep trying to push it through…

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