The Prime Minister is unable to satisfy MPs’ demands, even if some MPs backslide on the backstop - People's Vote

The Prime Minister is unable to satisfy MPs’ demands, even if some MPs backslide on the backstop

A new analysis published today by the People’s Vote campaign shows that Theresa May won’t -  or should not - be able to satisfy the demands of almost 100 MPs who have spoken out against the Backstop with the measures agreed last night.

Detailed research of public statements by 96 Conservative MPs shows they have demanded changes to the backstop that the Prime Minister has failed to deliver.

  • 43 MPs have requested a complete removal of the backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement
  • 34 MPs have demanded a firm time limit on the backstop.
  • 31 MPs have called for a unilateral exit mechanism for the UK to leave the backstop.

 

This morning, three of Britain’s most senior experts in European and international law declared that the measures announced in Strasbourg last night “do not come close” to meeting the tests set for Theresa May by backbench critics of her Brexit deal.

In an 11-page legal opinion, the lawyers say that what the Prime Minister claimed were “legal changes” will have no material effect on an agreement which allows the backstop to remain in place indefinitely. “It is crystal clear that the measures do not alter the fundamental legal effect of the backstop, as previously and correctly explained by the Attorney General,” they conclude.

The legal opinion was drawn up overnight by Lord (David) Anderson KBE QC, Jason Coppel QC and Sean Aughey, all of whom are regarded as leading practitioners in the field of EU and international law.

This was confirmed by Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, in his own legal advice who stated: “The legal risk remains unchanged.”

 

But some Conservative MPs are still threatening to backslide on the Backstop. They include:

David Davis MP, the former Brexit Secretary and the MP for Haltemprice &Howden.

Before: “The proposed withdrawal agreement is a terrible deal under which we won’t take back control of our money, laws and trade. The proposed deal is against our national interest and will harm our country.” (The Express, 10 December 2018, link)

After: “this is a way to deliver a proper Brexit … this deal is now significantly better than what was presented a few months ago in November and defeated” (Talkradio, 12 March 2019, link)

 

Mike Penning, the MP for Hemel Hempstead.

Before: “This is a deal that appears to have been drafted to appease the EU and large multinational businesses. It does not put British voters first. In the referendum it was the people who voted for Brexit, not multinational corporations. Brexit is what we want. The EU and international businesses will have to find a way to work with that.” (MP Statement on website, link)

After: Sir Mike Penning: I can now vote for the deal (Twitter, 11 March 2019, link)

 

John Lamont MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk.

Before: “I want the UK to move on and be able to focus on other, more important things. This Withdrawal Agreement could mean that we are still talking about Brexit for many more years to come.” (Border Telegraph, December 10 2018, link)After: “The only way to deliver on Brexit and to provide certainty for businesses in the Borders is to back this deal.” (MPs Website, 12 March 2019, link) 

 

Nigel Evans, the MP for Ribble Valley.
Before: “What I see in this draft deal is not the Brexit that I voted for, and not the Brexit that the Ribble Valley constituency voted for… The negotiation has conceded far too much ground on all of the key points.” (MP’s website, 16 November 2018, link)
“Ministers touring UK flogging this dead deal are engaged in worst mis-selling since PPI.” (The Independent, 7 December 2018, link)
“We’re being offered a prison cell -  that’s the problem - and the EU are the ones with the key.” (MP’s website)|
After: “If it delivers what Mrs May has promised that she would, and it has the backing of the DUP, I can see myself edging towards pushing this deal over the line.” (Daily Mail, 4 March 2019, link)"

 

Greg Hands, the MP for Chelsea & Fulham.

Before: “My view, however, is that as it currently stands, this agreement is one of the worst possible combinations." 
After: “I voted against the Brexit deal in January, but this is a well-crafted piece” referring to a piece entitled “Why MPs must hold their nose and back May’s Brexit deal” in the Spectator. (Twitter, 6 March 2019, link)

 

What Conservative opponents of the Prime Minister’s deal have said about the backstop

MP

Complete removal?

Time limit?

Unilateral exit?

Quote

Adam Afriyie

Yes

Yes

-

Adam Afriyie has said he wants the backstop removed or limited, and the £39bn payment to be tied to a trade deal“Today I’ll support amendments so our PM is strengthened & supported in telling the EU: Parliament accepts the Withdrawal Agreement only IF they change the legal treaty text to remove/limit backstop & tie the £39bn payment to a trade deal. Otherwise it’s a managed WTO transition.“ (Twitter, 15 January 2019, link)

 

Adam Afriyie has demanded a sunset clause to the backstop. “Sadly the @awmurrison amendment I supported wasn’t selected so I supported John Baron's amendment to strengthen the PM’s hand by providing a ‘sunset’ clause on the backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement treaty” (Twitter, 15 January 2019, link)

Lucy Allan

-

-

-

-

Sir David Amess

-

-

Yes

Sir David Amess has suggested that he wants a unilateral exit mechanism from the backstop. “The Draft Withdrawal Agreement would see us stuck in a potentially indefinite backstop arrangement, shackling us to a customs union that we have no unilateral right to leave.” (Leigh Times, 2 December 2018, link)

Richard Bacon

-

Yes

Yes

Richard Bacon has requested a unilateral exit mechanism and suggested a time limit to the backstop. “At the moment, the Government cannot answer this very simple question, which directly addresses the indefinite nature of the backstop: without any legal certainty with regards to our ability to exit the backstop unilaterally, what certainty is there that the EU would not play a long game, dragging out the negotiations? By further extending the transition period, which it could do, we could still be having this discussion in three, four or five years to come. That is not honouring the result of the referendum. We need to leave the EU. We need to be definite about that, and the backstop is not the answer because it is indefinite. We could be there for a very long time” (Hansard, 15 January 2019, link)

Steve Baker

Yes

-

-

Steve Baker has said that he wants the backstop to be replaced with the “A Better Deal” treaty. “How can Theresa May stay in office if she cannot articulate what she wants for the UK when it really counts? This is what to do: replace the backstop with this permanent treaty: (link to “A Better Deal”)” (Twitter, 14 December 2018, link)

John Baron

-

-

Yes

John Baron tabled an amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement that demanded a unilateral exit mechanism. “John Baron MP has tabled an amendment to the motion stating that Parliament should not accept the Withdrawal Agreement until there is a unilateral mechanism to enable the UK to withdraw from the ‘backstop trap’.” (John Baron’s website, 4 December 2018, link)

Guto Bebb

-

-

-

-

Bob Blackman

-

Yes

-

Bob Blackman signed an amendment calling for a time limit on the backstop. Have signed this @HouseofCommons  Amendment from @AWMurrison MP on the #WithdrawalDeal to deal to ensure an end date to the #Backstop #Brexit” (Twitter, 15 January 2019, link

Crispin Blunt

Yes

-

-

Crispin Blunt has said that he wants the backstop to be dropped from the Withdrawal Agreement. “N. Ireland border has always been an artificial issue. #WTO / #FTA remain the best UK option. If the #EU drops the needless backstop, the PM’s deal could be painfully swallowed. Penny now dropping in RoI. #Brexit” (Twitter, 17 January 2019, link)

Peter Bone

-

-

-

-

Ben Bradley

Yes

-

-

“If we cannot come to an agreement on a future arrangement, which seems likely, given how the last two years have gone, we will be tied into a backstop that would make that customs union permanent, and that we could not leave without the European Union’s permission. That customs union arrangement is only for Great Britain; different rules would be in place for Northern Ireland. That puts our Union under threat, allows the Scottish nationalists to further stir the pot and seek yet more referendums until they get the answer they want, and breaks the Prime Minister’s promise to the people of Northern Ireland. The withdrawal agreement that we have been presented with does not fulfil the promises of the Conservative manifesto and is simply not acceptable. That is why so many of my constituents signed the petitions in favour of no deal.” (Hansard, 14 January 2019,link)

Sir Graham Brady

-

-

Yes

Sir Graham Brady has said that he wants an exit mechanism from the backstop. “Over the next seven days, I urge the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister in the strongest possible terms to redouble their efforts to find a way to give real reassurance that we, the United Kingdom, could leave the backstop in the event that we have to enter it and to recognise that if negotiations on a future trading arrangement were to break down, there has to be a way to leave that backstop agreement.” (Hansard, 4 December 2018, link)

Suella Braverman

-

Yes

Yes

Suella Braverman has demanded a unilateral right to exit or time-limit the backstop. “My reasons for such an about-turn are simple. Firstly, the Northern Irish backstop is not Brexit. It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU. This robs the UK of the main competitive advantage from Brexit. Without a unilateral right to terminate or a definite time limit to the backstop, our many promises to leave the customs union will be broken.” (PoliticsHome, 22 November 2018, link)

Andrew Bridgen

-

Yes

-

Andrew Bridgen has said he wants the backstop to be temporary.“Despite assurances from the Prime Minister that the backstop would be temporary, I remain very concerned that if this House approves the deeply flawed withdrawal agreement, we risk being trapped in the backstop indefinitely.” (Hansard, 17 December 2018, link)

Fiona Bruce

-

-

-

-

Conor Burns

Yes

-

-

Conor Burns has said he wants to “end” the backstop. “Leaving Belfast with @BorisJohnson after a very warm welcome from @DUPleader at DUP conference. Making clear the need to end the so-called backstop, deliver for whole of UK in any agreement with EU and get devolved Government for NI back up and running” (Twitter, 24 November 2018, link)

Sir William Cash

Yes

-

Yes

“However, the withdrawal agreement does not achieve that, despite breathtaking assertions to the contrary. This situation may even be indefinite through the backstop, and through the undemocratic procedures of the Council of Ministers. We could be indefinitely shackled, as article 132 of the agreement affirms, even up to 31 December “20XX”. The decisions in the Council on which laws we obey, and changes to the rules creating great uncertainty for business, will be made through qualified majority voting or consensus by the other 27, behind closed doors. We will not be there. There will be no transcript, and no explanations will be given of how or why the laws imposed on us will be arrived at.” (Hansard, 15 January 2019, link)

Maria Caulfield

Yes

-

-

Maria Caulfield has said that she wants the backstop to be replaced with the “A Better Deal” treaty. “People asking for an aternative to the current deal . Here it is This is what to do: replace the backstop with this permanent treaty: (link to “A Better Deal”)” (Twitter, 14 December 2018, link)”

Rehman Chishti

Yes

-

-

Rehman Chishti wants the backstop dropped from the Withdrawal Agreement. “On @SkyNews with @adamboultonSKY discussed Brexit cannot support current Withdrawal Agreement as it commits🇬🇧to a Single Market & Customs Union contrary to Election Commitment. PM must get agreement from EU minus Backstop in text of Withdrawal Agreement” (Twitter, 11 December 2018, link)

Sir Christopher Chope

Yes

-

-

Sir Christopher Chope has suggested excluding the backstop from the Withdrawal Agreement. “My right hon. and learned Friend told my right hon. Friend the Member for Preseli Pembrokeshire (Stephen Crabb) that the European Union is refusing to allow a get-out clause on the permanent backstop, but he has also told us that he does not believe that the permanent backstop is sound in European Union law. Can this matter be resolved by a reference to the European Court of Justice in the same way that the European Court of Justice gave its opinion in relation to the relevance of the Lisbon treaty requirement that the EU should sign up to the European convention on human rights? When it gave its opinion on that, it said that it did not think it was compatible with the EU treaties, despite the fact that it had been signed up to in that particular treaty. Can something similar be done in this case to remove the uncertainty?” (Hansard, 3 December 2018,link)

Simon Clarke

Yes

-

-

Simon Clarke wants to abandon the backstop to transition to a Canada-style FTA. “So far today, my right hon. Friend has failed to reassure the House that we will definitely be able to leave the backstop by 31 December 2020. She continues to argue for a common rulebook that many of us on the Government Benches will not be able to support. Will she not pivot to a super-Canada policy and focus the remaining negotiating time on the technical solutions that have been set out? I urge her to do so, please, before it is too late.” (Hansard, 15 October 2018, link)

Damian Collins

-

-

Yes

Damian Collins wants an exit mechanism from the backstop. “We are trapped in the backstop, and the EU has lots of good reasons to want to keep us there (…) We have to reject this deal today. We have to go back to the negotiating table. We have to make sure that whatever option we choose gives us the freedom to choose our future direction and does not lock us into arrangements we have no power to get out of.” (Hansard, 15 January 2019, link)

Robert Courts

-

-

Yes

Robert Courts suggested that he wants a unilateral exit mechanism from the backstop. “I know I will be told that this is all temporary, but even if technically temporary, the backstop has every likelihood of being indefinite, with the EU effectively holding a veto over our ability to leave. Even under article 50 we have a clear, legal, sovereign right to exit our arrangements, but not here. There is no unilateral exit mechanism from the backstop, nor is it time-limited. This is almost unheard of in international relations.” (Hansard, 14 January 2019,link)

Tracey Crouch

-

-

-

-

Philip Davies

-

-

-

-

David Davis

-

Yes

-

David Davis wants the backstop to be time-limited. “The control of the timing of the backstop by the European Union hands enormous amount of negotiating power to the other side in this negotiation. Without change, it jeopardises the control of our money, borders, regulatory independence and, yes, our constitution too. It must therefore be time-limited under our control, and that must be legally enforceable.” (Hansard, 10 December 2018, link)

Nadine Dorries

Yes

-

-

Nadine Dorries has said that she does not want the backstop to be ‘automatic’. “If there was a guarantee that we could secure a trade agreement at the end of the transition period and if there were noautomatic backstop, I may have been able to support it.” (Hansard, 6 December 2018, link)

Steve Double

Yes

-

-

Steve Double has said he wants the backstop removed. “I want the Prime Minister to go back to the EU and say that there are elements in the withdrawal agreement that are not acceptable to the House and need to be removed in order for the House to support it. Obviously, that is primarily around the backstop. If the EU will not do that, under the legislation, no deal is the default position.” (Hansard, 5 December 2018, link)

Richard Drax

Yes

-

-

Richard Drax has said he wants the backstop removed. “The Prime Minister must say to the EU, “I have heard the voice of the House—the home of democracy. I cannot get this deal through. We need far more flexibility than you have been prepared to offer. For example, remove the backstop.” (Hansard, 16 January 2019, link)

James Duddridge

Yes

-

-

James Duddridge has said that the backstop threatens the existence of the United Kingdom. “The Prime Minister’s deal only delivers a half in, half out version of Brexit. One where we are forced to remain in a Customs Union indefinitely, one that places a hard border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, threatening the very existence of the United Kingdom, and one where we are forced to pay £39 Billion to the European Union. The electorate voted to ‘Take back control’ this deal simply hands over more control to the European Union turning the United Kingdom into a supplicant puppy to a federal block. It does not deliver Brexit!” (Basildon Echo, 15 January 2019, link)

Iain Duncan Smith

Yes

-

-

Iain Duncan Smith has also called for the backstop to be changed by Theresa May. “Many people now think she has got to go back to the EU and seek changes to her agreement. The most important one will be to replace the backstop with an alternative protocol that will not damage the UK’s chances of striking trade deals with non-EU countries.” (The Sun, 27 January 2019, link)

Iain Duncan Smith attacked the presence of the backstop in December. “So there is absolutely no requirement to have this ludicrous backstop pressed upon the UK.” (BBC News, 11 December 2018, link)

Charlie Elphicke

-

Yes

-

Charlie Elphicke has said that he could not countenance a backstop with no time limit being in the deal. “Today I will vote against the EU withdrawal agreement. I cannot back paying £39Bn of hard earned taxpayer’s money without something concrete in return. Nor a dealwith a backstop that has no end. I have listened to all sides & concluded this would be a bad deal for the UK.” (Twitter, January 15 2019, link)

Nigel Evans

-

Yes

-

Nigel Evans has said he cannot support any deal that could keep the UK in the customs union “indefinitely. “I cannot support an Irish backstop arrangement that threatens the Union and leaves us indefinitely within a version of the Customs Union and the Single Market. The negotiation has conceded far too much ground on all of the key points.” (Nigel-evans.org.uk, 16 November 2018, link)

David Evennett

-

Yes

-

David Evennett wants a “completion date”. “It is a real problem. We want a deal that gets us out and we want to have good relations with Europe, because Europe is home to our neighbours and trading partners. We want to do business with them, but we do not want to be their prisoner before we can make the trade deals that we need with the countries of the world. Let me use the example that I used in a meeting with the Prime Minister. If I am buying a house, I want a completion date. I do not want to give over the money—in this case, the £39 billion—without an end date. We want a completion date, so I am really concerned about the backstop” (davidevennett.wordpress.com, 7 December 2018, link)

Michael Fabricant

-

-

Yes

“I am relieved the #PM now gets that the Irish backstop is totally unacceptable. But the PM needs to come back to Parliament from the #EU with a real change to the backstop enshrined in the Deal. The UK MUST be able to leave the backstop unilaterally with no fudge.” (Twitter, 10 December 2018, link)

Michael Fallon

-

Yes

-

“First, on the backstop, a sovereign country cannot be placed in a position in which we are denied, in the end, a unilateral right of exit. That is all the more important because the protocol acknowledges that the backstop might remain under “alternative arrangements”, even in part. Others have already made the case as to why a backstop should remain, and I find that argument rather odd. We have been told this week that the European Union does not like the backstop any more than we do and that Ministers in other countries do not actually want the backstop to remain. If that is the case, why should they not agree that it is in everybody’s interests—theirs and ours—to set a date by which the backstop at least falls away?” (Hansard, 5 December 2018, link)

Mark Francois

Yes

-

-

Mark Francois has demanded that the backstop be removed from the withdrawal agreement in its entirety. Asked what concessions the ERG wants in order for its members to vote for May’s deal, Francois replied: “The Prime Minister would have to ask the European Union to ditch the entire backstop. Not tweak it, but ditch it.” (Politics Home, 23 January 2019, link)

Marcus Fysh

Yes

-

-

Marcus Fysh has said that the backstop makes Northern Ireland in to a hostage. “We’ve heard about the Irish backstop – Northern Ireland is effectively one of the hostages” (Youtube, 25 January 2015, link)

 

He has suggested there should be an alternative to the backstop put in place. “The Commons heavily defeated the EU’s Withdrawal Agreement proposal last month, then showed a clear majority for something similar – but only if the “backstop” Northern Ireland protocol could be replaced with a suitable alternative.” (Politics Home, 4 February 2019, link)

Zac Goldsmith

-

-

Yes

Zac Goldsmith has suggested a unilateral exit mechanism from the backstop. “The backstop effectively keeps us in the customs union, it subjects us to EU rules, with no UK say at all in framing those rules. We have heard today from numerous speakers that the backstop would divide Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK I would prevent us from striking meaningful new free trade agreements with other countries … But the biggest concern about the backstops is that we cannot leave it without the permission of the EU.” (zacgoldsmith.com, 5 December 2019, link)

James Gray

Yes

-

-

James Gray would like to see the backstop deleted. “Well here are my own personal views of the various options being bruited about: 1. Renegotiate with the EU. By far the best thing to do. Delete the obnoxious Backstop, and other lesser improvements. Secure support of DUP and ERG.” (Jamesgray.org, 17 January 2019, link)

 

He said that even if the backstop were removed, he would still be reluctant to vote for the deal“We had a long chat with the Prime Minister, but even then she was reluctant to raise Brexit. I had to do it for her and make sure that she was aware that people like me will simply not support her Brexit deal at very least unless and until she removed the obnoxious Northern Ireland backstop element to it. Even then, I would be a bit reluctant, as there are, in the analysis of the Spectator, 40 fatal flaws in the deal, for which we are paying out £39 billion.” (Jamesgray.org, 10 January 2019, link)

Chris Green

-

-

-

-

         

/ends