The People’s Vote campaign is today (Thursday) highlighting remarks – apparently unbroadcast – by the Attorney General in an interview with the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg about how a future Government would be free to renege on any commitments given about future Customs Union membership.
Last night the BBC featured extracts from Cox’s interview on its two main evening bulletins but focused on his – routine – support for Government policy on Brexit and did not feature his statement that there was “nothing stopping us removing ourselves from [a Customs Union] arrangement”.
The statement, from the Cabinet’s principal legal adviser, confirms the fears of many that the Government are pressing for a ‘blindfold Brexit’: where nothing concrete about future arrangements is settled when the UK leaves and the commitments of the Political Declaration on future UK-EU relations – which have no legal force – will be torn up by Theresa May’s successor.
With the Prime Minister already having indicated she will quit once her broken Brexit deal has crawled over the line, it is expected that the next Conservative leader will be from the party’s anti-European hard right.
Commenting, Anna Turley MP, leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:
“This is a shocking admission, but it is not surprising.
“By ripping up any commitment to a permanent Customs Union before it has even been made, Geoffrey Cox has once again exposed the reality of the Government’s approach to Brexit. Ministers are trying to force through a blindfold Brexit and will seemingly do whatever it takes to get it over the line.
“We already knew that Theresa May was a here-today, gone-tomorrow Prime Minister whose commitments were liable to be discarded by her successor, almost certainly someone from the hard, anti-European right.
“But now we know that even her own team are not negotiating with Labour or anyone else in good faith.
“It has never been clearer that some in Government are committed to a Westminster stitch-up and that a tight cabal in-and-around the Cabinet are desperate and determined to lock the people and their representatives out of key decisions about our country’s future.
“Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour frontbench must ask themselves if they could ever trust any agreement they ever reached with Theresa May over a compromise Brexit. That is why Labour must insist that the final say on Brexit rests with the people.”
Geoffrey Cox’s full quote is: “Whether we sign a customs union or whether we don’t, no nation is obliged to remain in an arrangement that doesn’t suit it. If we decided, in some considerable years time that we wanted to review our membership of any such customs union - if we signed it - and I’m not saying we will, that’s a matter for negotiation and discussion. There’s nothing to stop us removing ourselves from that arrangement. So we can’t look at these things as permanent strait-jackets upon this country.”
The video can be seen here: https://twitter.com/peoplesvote_uk/status/1113757938819244032