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How Theresa May's winning backstop deal was done… and why Geoffrey Cox blew it apart • RTE
Tony Connelly, for the Irish radio station:
<p>The [UK]Attorney General [Geoffrey Cox, who provides legal advice to the UK government] was already on the defensive. The UK had had to drop the very public demands for a unilateral exit clause or expiry date. Cox therefore wanted independent arbitration to be the next best thing as a way out.

He first suggested the arbitration be outside the dispute mechanisms already enshrined in the Withdrawal Agreement. That was immediately rejected by Barnier.

He [Cox] then made further arguments which baffled and irritated the EU side. 

First, he suggested that if the trade negotiations broke down then it would, by default, mean the backstop applying indefinitely. Since Article 50 was designed to be a temporary state, that meant the EU was breaking its own rules.

Cox then argued that Northern Ireland citizens would be subject to single market rules, yet not represented in the European Parliament or in ministerial meetings. The backstop was therefore in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Combine those arguments and the UK should be entitled to walk away from the backstop. EU officials were in disbelief. 

"There was a fundamental disagreement," recalls one official, briefed on the dinner. "It wasn’t on the principle of arbitration. It was on what the arbitration can cover, and what comes next."

The mood in Brussels darkened. Cox and Steve Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, returned to London. Sabine Weyand continued technical talks with Olly Robbins, her opposite number. </p>

Cox was both negotiating, and declaring what the negotiations meant - "marking his own homework", as one MP put it. I suspect he thought his ECHR twist was very clever and would show those Brussels suits who was the smartest person in the room. Turns out, that didn't really matter. The full story also shows how much high-level negotiation is now done via Twitter, which is quite weird.

American readers will probably find this impenetrable. You're not alone, folks.
brexit  backstop  ireland 
7 days ago by charlesarthur
RT : Our agreement provides meaningful clarifications & legal guarantees to the Withdrawal Agreement & . The ch…
backstop  from twitter_favs
11 days ago by antaldaniel
Theresa May’s Brexit lost to the ultimate adversary: reality | Rafael Behr | Opinion | The Guardian
This has been the greatest source of frustration and shock for the rest of Europe: the spectacle of a once serious country, formerly admired for the coolness of its temperament, racing towards perilous choices while turning its face defiantly against obvious realities. That, plus the tragic irony of history creating a vacancy for visionary leadership and then filling it with May.

There is an almost perfect mismatch between the prime minister’s character and the skills she has needed. She was blunt when she should have been diplomatic; inscrutable when she needed to be candid. When imagination was required, she opted for inane repetition. When she should have reached out, she doubled down. She appeased enemies of compromise in parliament and squandered goodwill in the country.

It can be hard to disentangle the disaster Brexit might always have been from the specific mess May has made of it. There are turnings on the road to failure that she did not need to take, junctions that were missed. She did not have to embark on the article 50 route before knowing where it led. She could have drawn different red lines or changed them when they confined her to impossible choices. But while there were problems with the driver, there were also limits to how far she could get with Brexiteer maps, scrawled in crayon on the eve of the referendum with wild, higgledy lines pointing at destinations that don’t exist.

The result is that the country has been driven round in circles. The parliamentary debate on May’s deal today was a gloomier, paler version of the one that was held in January. For much of the day the Commons benches were emptier than last time. The prime minister’s exhausted voice was hoarser. The deal was rejected by a smaller margin not because it has got any better, but because fear and exhaustion are catching up with Tory MPs, overtaking their belief that something better will come along.

As for the implacables who voted against May, they were not jubilant. They inflicted a defeat, but they know also that there was no victory here for any kind of Brexit. A ruinous no deal is still technically possible, but a chain of events has been triggered that could lead to postponement or even annulment of the whole project. The prime minister’s humiliation could rebound on to every Eurosceptic fanatic who urged her ever further and faster down the road to nowhere. Brexiteers have a dangerous adversary that they cannot name. It isn’t any opposition party, or Brussels, or remainers. It is reality.
UK  EU  Brexit  withdrawalAgreement  meaningfulVote  defeat  HouseOfCommons  Parliament  backstop  Euroscepticism  MayTheresa  politics  nationalism  delusion  leadership  failure  dctagged  dc:creator=BehrRafael  intransigence 
11 days ago by petej

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