Tag Archives: attorney

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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Attorney-General confirms Vox Political’s view of new ‘backstop’ arrangements

How kind of Geoffrey Cox, the attorney-general, to confirm This Site’s appraisal of what the assurances Theresa May has brought back from Strasbourg mean.

I wrote earlier that the “joint statement” and “joint legally-binding instrument” on the Northern Irish border backstop simply delay the need for the UK to find “alternative arrangements” to the controversial stopgap protocol until December 2020, by which time Theresa May could have ceased to be prime minister. I suggested that she was trying to pass the poisoned chalice to someone else.

Today, Mr Cox has said “the legal risk remains unchanged that … the United Kingdom would have … no internationally lawful means of exiting the protocol’s arrangements, save by agreement”.

So nothing has changed, to quote Mrs May’s own infamous remarks of a few years ago.

Apparently the DUP, the Northern Irish party propping up Mrs May’s minority government, has already said it cannot back her in today’s meaningful vote, on the basis of this information.

And it is well worth remembering that the votes in Parliament today (March 12) are about much more than the backstop, as the economist Jonathan Portes points out:

He wrote: “There is no option that will resolve the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over the UK economy any time soon, and none which can credibly claim to avert the risk of substantial long-term damage. The chancellor famously claimed that ‘no one voted to be poorer’. Maybe, maybe not. But… most of our elected representatives will almost certainly – one way or the other – do just that.”

The alternative is a political crisis which may result in something even worse – or something better. All things considered, I’ll take the crisis.

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Is the Attorney-General rebelling against Legal Aid changes in letter to barristers?

130622grieveaboutlegalaid

It seems the Secretary of State for Justice – Chris Grayling – cannot rely on the support of his own Attorney-General over his plans to stop people who need Legal Aid from getting it.

Dominic Grieve (for it is he) has written to barristers concerned about the Ministry of Justice’s proposals. In this letter, it appears clear that he is entirely unenthusiastic about the proposals – inconsistent with his membership of the same government as Grayling.

I am grateful to Jack of Kent for the following analysis.

The letter notably contains no words that could be described as an endorsement of the proposals. He accepts that opposition to the proposals cannot be explained away by self-interest, acknowledging that there is serious and principled opposition to the proposals which cannot be attributed to mere selfishness.

And the last sentence suggests that the Attorney-General is not personally confident that the Lord Chancellor is capable of making a fully informed decision, indicating that the government’s own senior law officer does not believe that the Ministry of Justice will make a policy decision on an appropriate evidential basis.

Here is the text of the letter in full (it can be found on the Internet here).

“A number of you wrote to me on 4th June drawing to my attention concerns about the Ministry of Justice proposals for the reform of legal aid. From regular attendance at Bar Council meetings I am well aware of the deeply and sincerely held concerns the Bar has on the effect these proposals, if implemented, will have. I recognise that those concerns go beyond the personal, financial implications to individual members of the Bar – serious though those may be – but extend to the potential impact on the quality of the justice system this country is rightly proud of.

“The Consultation paper meeting was one of the main topics for consideration at the Bar Council meeting of 20th April. I was asked to speak at the close of the Council’s debate. I emphasised that this was a consultation exercise carried out by the Lord Chancellor [Mr Grayling]. He, like other Ministers, had savings that his department had to absorb and where savings are to be made depends on where priorities lay. I said that on the whole, the service provided by the legal profession is taken for granted and that there was a general view that whilst lawyers complained about every financial cut imposed, the edifice will continue to function as it has in the past. I said that it was apparent now, from listening to what had been said at the meeting, that many present took the view that these proposals would cause the edifice to collapse. In my view, it was vital that the Bar use the consultation exercise to explain why these proposals will damage the justice system and what the overall impact will be.

“I know the Bar Council has provided a thoughtful yet powerful response to the consultation – one of many from the Bar. It was important that the consultation was responded to and I am grateful to all who have taken time to write to me and provide me with the particular insights of those who carry out Government work through membership of the Panels.

“Policy in this area is owned by the Lord Chancellor and not me. But I have already spoken to the Lord Chancellor and will continue to draw to his attention the concerns that have been expressed to me. I will endeavour to ensure, as far as I can, that the decision he reaches in due course is a fully informed one.”

These proposals would cause the edifice to collapse. That’s what some of us have been saying all along.

What do you think of the Attorney-General’s letter?

Whatever conclusions Grayling reaches, they may become apparent on July 3, when the Commons Justice Committee questions him about his proposals.

Hopefully, these questions will take into account not only the plans themselves, but the Attorney-General’s letter and the concerns which led him to write it, and also news stories demonising legal aid barristers and solicitors as “cashing in” (such as a Sun story last week), featuring supporting comments from Grayling himself.