PMs Brexit branded 'a trap' after Geoffrey Cox says fallback plan is indefinite

PMs Brexit branded 'a trap' after Geoffrey Cox says fallback plan is indefinite

December 4, 2018

MPs were enraged when Attorney General Geoffrey Cox admitted the fall-back plan, which would keep Britain in a customs union, was indefinite.

Mr Cox told the Commons: “We are indefinitely committed to it. There’s no point in me or the Government trying to hide that. There is no unilateral right for either party to terminate this arrangement.”

Eurosceptic Tory MP Desmond Swayne then shouted: “So it’s a trap.” Another, Anne Main, dubbed it “a sell out”.

The tense exchanges came as Mr Cox presented his long-awaited legal advice on the EU exit agreement.

The backstop, which kicks in if Britain and the EU fail to agree a trade deal, will keep the Irish border open.

Mr Cox admitted getting out of it was not guaranteed.

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The civil servant told the PM the Irish “backstop”, absurdly inserted to “avoid” a hard border no one will ever build, is a “bad outcome” for Britain.

Why? Because under international law we cannot leave it without consent which the EU will never grant.

Because it leaves us powerless to resist their rules, even new ones that hurt our economy. And because it keeps us in a customs union preventing us enacting our own trade deals.

Despite the persuasive efforts of Attorney General Geoffrey Cox yesterday, we just don’t believe the EU will seek to avoid the backstop — or let us leave it.

It will do anything to prevent an independent free-trading powerhouse on its doorstep. And once we’ve paid our £39billion “bill” our leverage is gone.

Why did our negotiators not demand a way to exit this trap? Because they didn’t think Brussels would agree. Such has been the feebleness of our efforts since David Cameron first had a go.

Mrs May is now reduced to claiming we CAN do our own trade deals before the backstop kicks in. And yes, we can sign them . . . but they may never come into effect.

The PM should not waste a week trying to sell this bad deal to the public.

She should return to Brussels and tell them it won’t work.

However, he insisted the EU had more to lose if it came into force. He added: “I do not believe we will be entrapped in it permanently.”

Meanwhile, the Government was in trouble for failing to publish all 5,000 pages of Mr Cox’s legal advice.

Speaker John Bercow said he thought there was an “arguable case that a contempt has been committed”.

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