The Brexiteer lawyers have set three tests that any amendments to Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement must meet before they will vote for it.


The team of eight solicitors and barristers that the Tory Brexiteers of the party's European Research Group (ERG) have put together with the DUP, has come up with a set of three tests that the assurances on the Irish backstop brought back by the Attorney General must pass.

In private talks with the Attorney General, they called on him to go to the EU and bring back a legally binding method of getting out of the Irish backstop that shows a clear exit route with clear and unambiguous wording.

They hope that this declaration by them, that if the tests are met they will vote the deal through, will enable the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC, to get what is required out of Brussels.

And what they need, they say, is a “clearly worded, legally binding, treaty-level clause which unambiguously overrides” the current wording of the Withdrawal Agreement. And good luck with that one given the current talk coming out of Brussels.

And also, that it must be more than “simply re-emphasising/re-interpreting the temporary nature of the backstop” and it must result in the changing of the Attorney General's previous advice that the backstop could "endure indefinitely".

There must also, say the ERG lawyers, be a "clear and unconditional route out of the backstop if trade talks fail", possibly through "a time limit or a unilateral exit mechanism".

This of course is all about the Irish Backstop issue and does nothing to address the severe dangers posed by the Withdrawal Agreement to UK control over its own national defence, security and foreign policies. So the deal is as flawed as ever even if the Attorney General brought something back that somehow satisfied those ERG tests.

This is also, in reality, just a wish-list from the ERG that would allow them to vote with Theresa May to get her deal through.

From what I can see, they feel that no-deal is now completely unachievable and are prepared to get this abomination through just so they can claim Brexit has been achieved then try and deal with the inevitable fall-out later.

But the problem is, that they won't be able to sign it off now and change it later. Once signed that's it, there is no going back to the Eurocrats to ask them to change it. We will be even more firmly lashed to the mast of SS European Union than we are now.

But that won't stop the Tories trumpeting from the hilltops their so-called triumph in achieving what they will criminally call Brexit.

They will then try and shut that whole dialogue down with the help of the media. And they hope that a grateful public will happily acquiesce.

Then on to sorting out the actual trade deal with the EU, which they will probably try to conduct behind closed doors so that we never really see how much they've given away. This will include carving up our defence and security services and thus our foreign policy for handing over to EU control – permanently.

And the Conservative and Labour parties will then breathe a big sigh of relief and happily revert back into their comfort zone of the eternal class war, which nicely maintains their cosy little two party state.

But Theresa May's dreams of getting her deal through may be short lived. The Remainers have the numbers in the Commons and they will want to see Theresa May's deal bite the dust so they can get on and vote for an Article 50 extension – they need one to stay in the EU.

Given the news yesterday saying that, according to Michel Barnier, an Article 50 extension will still be needed to get May's deal through, something that Liam Fox also said on the Marr show this morning, then it is clear that both the government and Remainers will actually be keen for an extension.

Now May will want a short extension, but the Remainer MPs will want to try and force an extension of one or, more preferably for them, two years.

And that will be the battle of the amendments on the Commons order paper for Thursday 14th March – once MPs have ditched May's deal on the 12th and voted on the 13th, probably overwhelmingly, against a no deal exit.

Theresa May will be desperate for a short two month extension to give her the best chance of forcing her deal through.

But the Remainers could outnumber the PM and so force her to go cap in hand to the EU to beg for a two year extension.

That means EU MEP elections and huge changes in statute law, to enable that to happen all in the remaining 15 days they would have left available to them.

And remember that, until the relevant statute law is changed or repealed, the default position in current law is that, if May cannot get her deal through, the UK will leave the EU on World Trande Organisation (WTO) terms at 11pm on the 29th March 2019.

That will not be changed by a simple vote of MPs on the 13th March against a no deal exit.


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