‘The Prime Minister Is Conning Us All’: Brexiteer Rejects May’s EU Concessions

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May gives a speech in Grimsby, north east England, Friday March 8, 2019. British lawmakers are due to vote for a second time Tuesday on the deal, which they overwhelmingly rejected in January. (Christopher Furlong/PA via AP)
Christopher Furlong/PA via AP

Leave Means Leave co-chairman Richard Tice has said that Prime Minister Theresa May is “conning” the country with the Irish backstop concessions she brought back from Strasbourg.

“Ignore the new documents agreed by the prime minister and Mr Juncker,” Mr Tice wrote Tuesday morning.

“Exit is NOT unilateral nor effective: the UK would have to prove bad faith ([which is] almost impossible) and convince an arbitration panel of EU folk, still subject to ECJ, [in order to leave.]”

“The prime minister is conning us all,” he said. “This agreement still means Northern Ireland would be treated differently to the rest of UK. This is still the worst deal in history.

“MPs should vote this terrible deal down, believe in Britain, and Let’s Go WTO.”

UPDATE 1315 — Star Chamber reject May’s reassurances

The so-called ‘Star Chamber’, an influential group of pro-Brexit legally trained Members of Parliament whose opinion will influence the votes of many Brexiteers in Parliament are not happy. Sir William [Bill] Cash, one of the members said Tuesday: “In the light of our own legal analysis and others we do not recommend accepting the Government’s motion today.”

Other membersof the group include Dominic Raab, Suella Braverman, and Nigel Dodds of the DUP.

UPDATE 1111 — Attorney General concludes May’s concessions do not improve things

Attorney General Cox is set to deliver his assessment of the “joint interpretative statement” Tuesday afternoon, ahead of the evening’s scheduled vote, but the text of his finding shave been released by the civil service — and it is not looking good for the Prime Minister.

Many leading Brexiteers, including former party leader Iain Duncan Smith have said the Attorney General must confirm that the country can leave the so-called backstop mechanism unilaterally, or else be stuck in limbo attached to the EU forever. As the AG writes in the final paragraph of his review, despite the changes:

“…the United Kingdom would have, at least while the fundamental circumstances remained the same, no internationally lawful means of exiting the Protocol’s arrangements, save by agreement.”

The best the AG can say is that the risk is reduced. This is not the legal assurance Brexiteer rebels in Parliament were hoping to receive…

The original story continues below

European Research Group (ERG) chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the ERG and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) are reserving judgement on the minor concessions offered by Eurocrats late Monday night until a “star chamber” of legal experts have examined them.

Fellow Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith also told the Today programme that tonight’s vote should be delayed 24 hours to allow MPs to consider the contents of the documents and to allow them to cross-examine Attorney General Geoffrey Cox on the backstop, with Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Kier Starmer saying that Mr Cox’s advice would be “central” in the opposition’s consideration of whether to back the Withdrawal Agreement.

DUP leader Arlene Foster is also reportedly in favour of a delay to the vote, and is expected to speak to Prime Minister May on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Tory ultra-Remainer Nick Boles has told Brexiteers that unless they back Mrs May’s agreement in the House of Commons vote, he and his Europhile colleagues will “frustrate” them and vote to stop a no-deal, clean Brexit on March 29th.

Boles, who threatened to quit the party if the Conservatives continued along the route of a World Trade Organization (WTO) exit if a deal with the EU was not passed, told Eurosceptic lawmakers if they do not back the deal, “people like me will conclude that you will never be satisfied, that you aren’t open to compromise, that you are hellbent on forcing the UK to crash out of the EU without a deal.

“We will then do whatever it takes to frustrate you. We will vote to stop no-deal Brexit on 29th March. We will vote to extend Article 50 for a few months. And we will then work with opposition parties to build a majority for a softer Brexit deal.”

Asserting to be “just as committed to our cause” of getting as soft a Brexit as possible “as you are to yours” of delivering on the will of the people, he threatened to use his “friends on the opposition benches” to block a clean Brexit and delay leaving.

“I really hope that we can come together this evening and walk through the Aye lobby side by side. Let’s put this nightmare behind us. But if you won’t, please don’t say I didn’t warn you about what comes next,” Boles added.

Attorney General Cox is set to deliver his assessment of the “joint interpretative statement” Tuesday afternoon, ahead of the evening’s scheduled vote. With a growing mumber of Members of Parliament apparently losing faith in the Prime Minister’s ability to lead over Brexit, the opinion of the Attorney General — one of the most senior lawyers in the UK — is likely to be pivotal over how Brexit continues to develop.


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