Iain Duncan Smith calls for statement from Attorney General on the new legally binding instrument

11th March 2019

Iain Duncan Smith welcomes the Government statement late in the evening on the withdrawal agreement and the new legally binding instrument. He calls for a statement from the Attorney General so that MPs can question him and make their decision.

I welcome my right hon. Friend to the Dispatch Box at this late hour. His statement is of the greatest interest to many of us who want to know whether this is a genuine improvement to the problems that existed, and my vote will be based on what I interpret from this. Given the number of issues here—the joint legally binding instrument, the interplay with the UK’s unilateral ability to revoke the backstop and then refer it to an independent tribunal—would it not be better to have a statement from the Attorney General? Would it not be better for him to appear in the House to explain his findings and be questioned and then, if that takes longer, for us to push back the vote to the following day? It would be better to know what we are voting on than to rush the vote and repent.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his comments and for the work that he and others have done in developing ideas for alternative arrangements and for trying to make sure that they really are built into the mainstream of the work we do and embodied in legally binding and enforceable commitments. I will ensure that the Attorney General is aware of the request for him to appear tomorrow. On the timing of the debates, obviously the business for tomorrow has already been announced in the normal way, and I emphasise that the Prime Minister made a clear commitment from this Dispatch Box last week to the timetable for this week. She was pressed by right hon. and hon. Members from different parts of the House to provide clarity, and it is her clear intention to stick to the timetable she announced.

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