Brexit legal advice: what it says, and why the UK now faces key constitutional questions

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After a bitter battle in which ministers were found to be in contempt of parliament, the UK’s attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, has published his legal advice to the government on Brexit. At first reading at least, the advice seems to be sound. It accurately captures the legal situation surrounding the Irish backstop – which is that a “single customs territory”, with its rights and obligations for Northern Ireland and Great Britain, will exist from the end of the Brexit transition period “unless and until” it is superseded by a subsequent agreement between the EU and the UK which guarantees that there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland. But it is sure to alarm many Brexiters, who have long insisted that the UK should have a unilateral right to end the backstop. The government’s attitude towards both parliament and the public throughout this episode raises serious constitutional questions. And it prompts understandable alarm about the pledge for parliament to “take back control” of decision-making after Brexit.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe Conversation Trust (UK) Limited
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2018

Structured keywords

  • Brexit


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