Johnson’s first Attorney General condemns his plan to betray EU withdrawal agreement

Geoffrey Cox: the former Attorney General is pointing the finger of accusation at Boris Johnson.

That’s scuppered the claims that the row over Boris Johnson’s plan to break international law is a last gasp of the so-called ‘Remainers’, then.

Geoffrey Cox – a devout Brexiter – was Attorney General when Boris Johnson signed his EU withdrawal agreement in January.

His announcement that he will not support Johnson’s Internal Markets Bill is proof that the controversy extends much further than the established battle lines.

The story broke in The Times, which is behind a paywall. However, the East Fife Times has this:

Boris Johnson’s former attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, has said it would be “unconscionable” to override the Brexit divorce deal.

The Tory MP said there is “no doubt” the “unpalatable” implications of the Withdrawal Agreement were known when the Prime Minister signed it, a time when Mr Cox was the chief law officer.

So he should know!

He stated:

And he threatened worse:

The Brexiteer warned he would not back the UK Internal Market Bill unless ministers dispel the impression they plan to “permanently and unilaterally” rewrite an international agreement.

[He] said tariffs and customs procedures on certain goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain were part of the deal.

“There can be no doubt that these were the known, unpalatable but inescapable, implications of the agreement,” he wrote in The Times.

He said if the powers in the Bill were used to “nullify those perfectly plain and foreseeable consequences” then it would amount to the “unilateral abrogation of the treaty obligations”

Cox said ministers could use “clear and lawful” options under the withdrawal agreement to remedy their concerns that food imports may be blocked from Britain to Northern Ireland – or, “in extremis”, take “temporary and proportionate measures” via independent arbitration.

“What ministers should not do, however provoked or frustrated they may feel about an impasse in negotiations, is to take or use powers permanently and unilaterally to rewrite portions of an international agreement into which this country freely entered just a few months ago,” he said.

It seems he also said this:

But the article also points out:

The QC… was attorney general during the unlawful suspension of Parliament.

That’s right; Boris Johnson prorogued Parliament illegally – and lied to the Queen in order to do it.

It seems Cox has had enough of such illegalities – and his words carry weight on the Conservative benches in the House of Commons.

They are also carrying weight on the social media:

Johnson and his people are desperately trying to play down the implications of their plan, but nobody is being fooled.

There may be more than verbal fireworks in the political news this week.

Source: Ex-attorney general strikes out at ‘unconscionable’ plan to override Brexit deal | Central Fife Times

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2 thoughts on “Johnson’s first Attorney General condemns his plan to betray EU withdrawal agreement

  1. SteveH

    Maybe Geoffrey Cox is worried about being hauled up before the Bar Council for Serious Professional Misconduct

    Bar Council Press Release
    Following comments by the Northern Ireland Secretary that a new Bill to amend the UK’s Brexit deal with the EU will “break international law in a specific and limited way”, Chair of the Bar Council, Amanda Pinto QC said:

    “We share widespread concern about the Government’s stated intention to break international law in publishing new legislation on customs rules in Northern Ireland today. It should not need to be said that this country is built on, and subject to, the rule of law. Undermining this vital principle will fatally puncture people’s faith in our justice system, both at home and internationally. Someone committing a crime in a in a “specific and limited way” nonetheless commits a crime, and an admitted breach of international law in a “specific and limited way” is nonetheless a breach.”


    1. SteveH

      The Law Society Gazette is highly critical of the government stance

      Legal commentator David Allen Green said: ‘This really is first-term, first-year undergraduate tosh from the attorney general.’

      Mark Elliott, professor of public law at the University of Cambridge described the statement as ‘utterly risible’. He said: ‘The government’s argument is that parliament’s legal capacity in domestic law to make any law it wants somehow makes it acceptable, as a matter of international law, for the UK to renege on it treaty obligations. But the latter does not follow the former.’

      nb: Rowena Collins Rice – Director General at the Attorney General’s Office has also resigned.

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