Leaked Advice to PM May from Bureaucrat Olly Robbins Admits Brexit Backstop ‘A Bad Outcome’


Olly Robbins, the unelected civil servant credited with crafting Theresa May’s “worst deal in history” with the EU, is reported to have warned her that entering into its so-called “backstop” arrangements would be “a bad outcome” for the United Kingdom.

The Prime minister’s withdrawal agreement envisions an extended negotiating period after Brexit in which it will remain effectively a full EU member minus its voting rights and representation in EU institutions, while a future relationship continues to be negotiated, described somewhat disingenuously as a “transition” or “implementation” period.

If no future relationship is agreed, the UK and the EU can either extend the “transition” for two years, or automatically revert to “backstop” arrangements in which a “single customs territory” for goods and agri-products is formed, with the European Union essentially setting all the rules and the British province of Northern Ireland subject to additional EU obligations in order to keep the border with the EU-governed Republic of Ireland open.

The backstop has proven highly contentious, particularly as it does not appear to be time-limited and Britain will not be allowed to leave it without the European Union’s agreement — and Robbins’ advice to the prime minister about it, passed to The Telegraph by a concerned minister, appears to confirm that even the government admits falling into it would be bad for Britain.

“We should not forget that the backstop world, even with a UK-EU customs union, is a bad outcome with regulatory controls needed somewhere between [Great Britain] and [Northern Ireland] serious and visible frictions and process between GB and the EU, and no security co-operation provided for,” warned the bureaucrat, an admirer of the Soviet Union who once headed a university club which backed a federal Europe.

“When even the architect of this agreement appears to be saying this is a bad deal, colleagues must seriously question how they can vote for this,” commented Priti Patel MP, a Leave supporter who served in the prime minister’s Cabinet as Secretary of State at the Department for International Development (foreign aid) until recently.

“This only makes a stronger case for MPs to see the Attorney-General’s full legal advice before being asked to vote on this terrible deal. It also raises serious questions as to what other information are they hiding from MPs.”

MPs commanded the Government release its full legal advice on Theresa May’s deal with the EU via a humble address, although it appears to be refusing to do so — a constitutionally dubious move which looks set to trigger contempt of Parliament proceedings.

Part of the advice seen by The Sunday Times appears to confirm Brexiteers’ worst fears that “The [backstop] protocol would endure indefinitely,” with the British government all-but powerless to leave it without the EU’s agreement.

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