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2020-12-31

Well, tonight we have lift-off, whatever that may mean.

Lawyers for Britain give their initial verdict, having had all of a day or so to peruse the vast number of pages comprising the deal.

Download their preliminary verdict here.

"Were these threats to materialise, that would be flat contrary to the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland and would alter the constitutional status of Northern Ireland within the UK. As such, it would amount to a major breach of the core principle of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement that NI’s constitutional status cannot be changed without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland"

Ouch.

"Given its duties to safeguard the constitution and internal market of the United Kingdom and its specific responsibilities under the Belfast Agreement, the UK government cannot possibly allow these threats to materialise into actuality it is therefore essential for powers to be taken which allow if necessary direct effect to be over-ridden under UK law"

"The first point to note is that these clauses simply do not, as and when enacted, of themselves break international law. This is because they lay down enabling powers to make regulations which would disapply or modify direct effect. Therefore the first point in time when a breach of international law could possibly occur would be when regulations under these clauses were actually made and brought into force. And  — this is a vital point — whether or not making such regulations would breach international law at that time would depend upon the circumstances then prevailing and the reasons for making the regulations"

but on the plus side:

"It is very fortunate that the UK is in a position where our law allows us to ensure that the UK’s negotiating position under international treaties is not undermined by our domestic courts having to impose international treaties as interpreted by a foreign court even where it is contrary to the foundations of our constitution"

 

Read the full preliminary analysis of the pitfalls within the agreement.

The devil will be in the motivations of future UK governments - but to some extent that was always going to be the case.

Worryingly they make no mention of the European Arrest Warrant, which looks set to continue in rebadged format.

I predict a bonanza of legal fees for the lawyers in the coming years.