Boris Johnson might want to tear bits out of Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement surrender treaty, or even shred it completely and start afresh on a new agreement. But there's a big sting in the tail here.
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A withdrawal Agreement is just that, a Withdrawal Agreement.
And I point that out to ensure people don't get confused into thinking that if Boris can get a new agreement, then it will just happen. Because it definitely will not just happen.
Any agreed solution that is arrived at between the EU and the UK becomes the 'Withdrawal Agreement' and therefore subject to the conditions for ratification in the EU Withdrawal Act 2018.
The current Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Theresa May cannot be ratified because it did not go through the procedure of being accepted by MPs in accordance with section 13 of the Withdrawal Act 2018 – i.e. it got thrown out three times.
But section 20 of the Withdrawal Act defines a 'Withdrawal Agreement' as follows:
""withdrawal agreement" means an agreement (whether or not ratified) between the United Kingdom and the EU under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union which sets out the arrangements for the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU."
It is not specific to Theresa May's agreement, it means as far as I can see, the most recent of any agreement we come to.
So, if Theresa May's deal is amended or even ditched and a whole new agreement arrived at, surely that new arrangement would become the negotiated 'Withdrawal Agreement' as defined by the 2018 Act.
It would then be subject to the requirements of Section 13 of the Act where it must be agreed by MPs along with a future relationship agreement before it can be signed up to.
To be clear Section 13 says that a Minister of the Crown has to lay the agreement together with a framework for the future relationship before both the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
The House of Lords has to note them both, but the MPs in the House of Commons must approve them both.
Section 13(1)(b) says that the Withdrawal Agreement may be ratified only if:
"the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship have been approved by a resolution of the House of Commons on a motion moved by a Minister of the Crown".
It has been suggested that a new agreement could be forced through under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, but as far as I can see the Withdrawal Act 2018 is worded so as to prevent a government doing just that.
I'm not a qualified lawyer, but as far as I can see any agreement reached between Boris and the EU cannot be fully signed off and entered into, without both that agreement itself and an associated future relationship both being accepted by a majority vote of MPs.
And what are the chances of that happening given the current political arithmetic? Many will reject anything Boris and many will reject anything but full EU membership.
If this is so, there are only two ways to sidestep it: one is to leave with no deal at all and the other is to prove we have already left the EU. A General election might change the arithmetic, but it doesn't automatically change those 2018 Withdrawal Act requirements.
But on the first of leaving with no deal, Parliament will do all it can to stop it and one question is, do the several little side agreements made between the EU and the UK on transport etc to keep the wheels turning after a no-deal WTO Brexit, together with an understanding the we will talk about a deal later, when viewed together under the law constitute a Withdrawal Agreement and future relationship that have to be accepted by MPs?
You can bet the Remainers are looking into all of this.
And on the second of proving we'd already left the EU, I just want to ask, what would happen if Boris Johnson instructed the government legal team to drop the defence to the Robin Tilbrook Judicial Review case, that claims the first Article 50 extension was unlawful and that we'd already left the EU on the 29th March? Would that then just mean, we'd left?
Well, firstly as a layman in these things I can't find anything that would allow this to happen. I've found lots about the claimant dropping their judicial review claim, but not about a government body dropping their defence.
So, although it sounds a good wheeze, I'm not sure how that would operate – maybe public bodies are expected to defend their positions to the hilt?
But I would bet that someone like Gina Miller would lodge their own judicial review case against Boris for his decision to drop the defence! And he would have to prove he followed the correct process to do that!
In fact I reckon that, when we do leave, there will be court actions aplenty by rich Remainers and crowd-funders to try and prove that we hadn't actually left!
And you think I'm joking, don't you?!
Those clowns will be there with their litigation cheque books wide open, questioning every decision in the lead up to our exit trying to prove that somewhere along the line the correct process was not followed and that therefore we were still full EU members.
And this will go on for years – we must resign ourselves to the prospect of suffering a perpetual campaign to get this country back into the EU! And when I say perpetual, I mean just that.
And if it's not this particular European Union project they want to stay in or rejoin, it will be the next one or the one after that.
We will be defending our independence and sovereignty against those that wish to usurp it, for all time! But you only have to give it up once to lose it forever – and we were that close to losing it in 2016!
So, get ready for the eternal fight to keep our true freedoms!