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Folkestone and Hythe MP says whole of legal advice over proposed Brexit withdrawal agreement should have been published

Contributed by editor on Dec 05, 2018 - 06:05 AM


Constituency matters... a weekly column by the Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe, Damian Collins 5 December 2018


On Monday the government published the summary of its legal advice relating to the proposed Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Given that this is one of the biggest issues that parliament has had to debate in peacetime, it is right that we can consult this document before we vote on 11th December. However, this should have included the whole of the advice that was given to the Cabinet, and not just the summary.

Having studied the published document, it has merely reinforced my belief that it would be wrong for the country for us to accept this deal. My concern remains that after the proposed transition period following Brexit in March next year, we would then go into a backstop arrangement if a new trade agreement with the European Union had not been concluded.

Backstop

Once in the backstop, we would be committed to retain our membership of the Customs Union, and to maintain close alignment on rules and regulations with the EU Single Market. The backstop arrangement would remain in place until an agreement on our future trading relationship had been reached.

We would have no power to leave the backstop independently, but only with the agreement of the EU, or an independent panel. The government’s legal advice makes clear that the backstop, ‘will continue to apply unless and until it is superseded, in whole or part, by a subsequent agreement establishing alternative agreements.’ Furthermore, the advice makes clear that the withdrawal agreement, ‘does not contain any provision on its termination. In the absence of such a provision, it is not possible under international law for a party to withdraw from the Agreement unilaterally.’

UK trapped

It is not right that the UK should be trapped in a position where we are bound by a large number of EU rules that we would then have no say in making and be unable to end the arrangement without their agreement. It is a sad reflection on where we are now, that expectations have been set so low, it enables some people to say that this is a good outcome. My position remains unchanged, and I will be voting against the proposed withdrawal agreement.

Winter Shelter

This week, the Folkestone Churches Winter shelter has once again opened its doors, to help homeless people in our community at the worst time of the year. You can find out more about the Shelter, including the venues it will be operating each night, from its website, www.wintershelter.org.uk/ .

The Folkestone Rainbow Centre, which does such excellent work throughout the year to provide help and support for homeless people, is leading on the management of the shelter, working with a number of other local partners.

Council to help during severe weather

I was pleased that last week, Folkestone and Hythe District Council also announced that it will be introducing the severe weather provisions for homeless people on any night when the temperature drops to freezing. This means that the council will provide emergency accommodation for homeless people in the district on those days. This is a welcome decision from the council and is ahead of its legal obligations; although clearly the right thing to do.

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