Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Brexit backstop legal risk 'unchanged': UK's Cox

Brexit backstop legal risk 'unchanged': UK's Cox

Speaking of the "legally binding changes" the United Kingdom agreed with the EU, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said earlier Tuesday that Britain had been offered "reassurance and guarantees" over the Brexit deal as MPs in London prepare to vote Tuesday on whether to accept the withdrawal agreement, but denied that the concessions brokered alterations to the so-called Irish backstop.

Theresa May's hopes of pushing her renewed Brexit deal through Parliament have been dealt a crushing blow after the Attorney General refused to change his legal opinion on the United Kingdom being able to leave the Irish backstop. As a result, GBP has dropped and risk appetite more generally has tumbled.

Britain's exit from the European Union hung in the balance on Tuesday after Prime Minister Theresa May's newly won assurances on her divorce deal failed to win over the main Brexit faction in her Conservative Party hours before a vote in parliament, Trend reports referring to Reuters.

She claims the changes now means the Irish backstop - the insurance policy created to avoid a hard border in Ireland - could not "become permanent".

"Having studied the documents, I would be surprised if they are sufficient to enable the Attorney General to change the central plank of his December legal advice", Starmer said on Twitter. If you missed it, here's a recording.

Ms. May wasn't helped by Attorney-General Geoffrey Cox, who released a legal opinion of the revised deal on Tuesday that indicated the changes she negotiated had limited impact.

But the vote is "likely" to impact the exchange rate, currency experts have warned, and it's not known whether the hit will be positive or negative.

If the deal is voted down, MPs will Wednesday vote on whether Britain should simply leave on March 29 without any deal at all.

If lawmakers vote down May's deal, she has promised a vote on Wednesday on whether to leave without a deal and, if they reject that, then a vote on whether to ask the European Union for a limited delay to Brexit.

"It is this deal or Brexit might not happen at all", he said.

"Now is the time to come together to back this improved Brexit deal and to deliver on the instruction of the British people", she said.

However, parliament is expected firmly to reject a "no-deal" Brexit as well, so MPs would then vote again on Thursday - on whether government should request a delay to the leaving date to allow further talks.

Mrs May flew into Strasbourg late on Monday for a last-ditch effort to salvage a deal with the EU. Lawmakers voted down the deal in January by an even bigger margin.

Before heading to the Commons to address Tory MPs and make a statement to the House, she concluded the meeting by saying: "Today is the day".

He was responding to Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, who had tweeted: "A Lawyer contact tells me that the legal world is aware that the Attorney General said NO last night to the validity of Mrs May's "new European Union deal"...he been told to go away and find a way to say YES: A cohort of lawyers has been summoned".

This morning, 12 March, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox released his legal advice to the Government and the last paragraph of that advice is critical, advising that there are no fundamental changes to the legal position on the backstop through this latest agreement.

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