Geoffrey Cox’s New “Legal Advice” on Brexit Incentivises Unionist Violence 1508

Brexit has revealed further the rottenness of the British political Establishment, but I am still truly shocked now to see the Government of the United Kingdom negotiating a major international treaty on the acknowledged, discussed and now published basis that it has every intention of breaking that treaty once it is in force. Officially published by the Attorney General, no less.

The Westminster Government’s contempt for international law was fully demonstrated just two weeks ago when it repudiated the International Court of Justice – an act which is the ultimate disavowal of the rule of international law – over the decolonisation of the Chagos Islands. So in one sense it is no shock that they are prepared to sign a treaty with no intention of honoring it.

But what is quite astonishing is that the discussions with the DUP and ERG on how to sign up to the backstop and then dishonour it, have been carried out fully in public, and with the potential other party to the treaty looking on.

I simply do not see how the EU can now sign the Withdrawal Agreement which was negotiated with May, when they have been given firm evidence that the UK intends to cheat on that Agreement.

I especially cannot understand the pusillanimous attitude of the government of Ireland to this development. The UK has published in advance that it is taking Ireland and the Irish people for fools and has no intention of keeping to the Irish backstop. The reaction of the Government of Ireland is to pretend not to notice. That is an astonishing dereliction of its duty to the people of Ireland, North and South.

The more so as Geoffrey Cox’s “advice” is an unsubtle hint to the DUP, should the backstop become effective, to restart the Loyalist violence with which they were for decades so closely associated, in order to provide the pretext for cancelling the backstop. In reading this, it is essential to remember that this legal advice was written, as a matter of definite fact, directly for the DUP audience to try and influence the DUP in the next “meaningful” vote. To signal to an organisation as steeped in blood as the DUP that the way out of the “Backstop” arrangement which they so hate, would be to demonstrate it is having a “socially destabilising effect in Northern Ireland”, clearly gives a very direct incentive to Loyalists to restart violence.

Anybody who knows anything about the history and politics of Northern Ireland must be aware that what I have just written is true. At the very best reading, Cox’s “advice” is grossly irresponsible and reckless.

It is also very poor legal advice. Unlike Geoffrey Cox, I have actually negotiated a number of international treaties, including most of the UK’s continental shelf boundary agreements, the Protocol on Deep Seabed Mining to UNCLOS and the Sierra Leone Peace Agreement. Cox’s interpretation of Article 62 of the Vienna Convention on Treaties is complete nonsense. To start with, Article 62 is designed not to facilitate but to prevent treaties being dishonoured under the excuse of “unforseen circumstances”. It reads:

Article 62
Fundamental change of circumstances
1. A fundamental change of circumstances which has occurred with regard to those existing at the
time of the conclusion of a treaty, and which was not foreseen by the parties, may not be invoked as a
ground for terminating or withdrawing from the treaty unless:
(a) the existence of those circumstances constituted an essential basis of the consent of the parties to
be bound by the treaty; and
(b) the effect of the change is radically to transform the extent of obligations still to be performed
under the treaty.
2. A fundamental change of circumstances may not be invoked as a ground for terminating or
withdrawing from a treaty:
(a) if the treaty establishes a boundary; or
(b) if the fundamental change is the result of a breach by the party invoking it either of an obligation
under the treaty or of any other international obligation owed to any other party to the treaty.
3. If, under the foregoing paragraphs, a party may invoke a fundamental change of circumstances
as a ground for terminating or withdrawing from a treaty it may also invoke the change as a ground for
suspending the operation of the treaty.

Very plainly indeed, neither 1 a) nor 1 b) apply to the situation Cox outlines. Just not working out the way you intended is not grounds to dishonor a treaty. Social discontent in Northern Ireland would not radically transform the obligations under the treaty nor is social content the essential basis of consent to the treaty.

The second, and frankly hilarious, point is that Cox’s advice is demonstrably nonsense. To permit the dishonoring of the treaty, a change in circumstance must not only be “fundamental” it must also be “unforeseen”. Yet in his legal advice Cox foresees and specifies the “unforeseen” event that might lead to cancellation!

I rest my case.

It is worth reminding you – as the MSM refuse to do – that the Tory Brexiteers oppose the Good Friday Agreement, and destroying it is to them a potential gain from Brexit rather than a disaster to be averted. Remember this by Michael Gove, asserting that the British military option would be better than the Good Friday Agreement?

Ulster’s future lies, ultimately, either as a Province of the United
Kingdom or a united Ireland. Attempts to fudge or finesse that
truth only create an ambiguity which those who profit by violence
will seek to exploit. Therefore, the best guarantee for stability is the
assertion by the Westminster Government that it will defend, with
all vigour, the right of the democratic majority in Northern Ireland
to remain in the United Kingdom. Ulster could then be governed
with an Assembly elected on the same basis as Wales, and an
administration constituted in the same way. Minority rights should
be protected by the same legal apparatus which exists across the
UK. The legislative framework which has guaranteed the rights and
freedoms of Roman Catholics and ethnic minorities in Liverpool
and London should apply equally in Belfast and Belleek…

In such circumstances, resolute security action, the use of
existing antiterrorist legislation and the careful application of
intelligence could reduce the IRA to operating as it did in the fifties
and sixties. Combining such security measures with a political
determination not to allow Ulster’s constitutional status to be altered
by force of arms would rob the republicans of hope.
It can be done. But does any Government have the will?

Interestingly enough, after I published an article on Gove’s 58 page pamphlet attacking the Good Friday Agreement, the Tory think tank which published it, the Centre for Policy Studies, immediately took it down from the web. I have, however, copied it to my own website.

By chance, my next couple of speaking engagements are in Northern Ireland. This is not the subject I was intending to discuss, but I never know what I am going to say when I stand up anyway. Happy to answer questions on anything.


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1,508 thoughts on “Geoffrey Cox’s New “Legal Advice” on Brexit Incentivises Unionist Violence

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  • Tonyandoc

    Cox may be stating the obvious.
    When it comes to “Ulster” (more accurately the six counties of Ulster that make up Northern Ireland) the various governments of Ireland during the 20th century have always been bystanders and, eventually, acquiescent to actions by one faction of their constituents (direct democracy) and the decisions of leaders of UK institutions. From the Ulster Covenant in 1912 and the British Army’s Curragh Mutiny in 1914, both prompted by the introduction of the Home Rule Bill, the nullification of the 1918 general election through to the Ulster Workers Council Strike in 1974 following the Sunningdale Agreement UK governments have always caved.
    In contrast, the Good Friday Agreement relied on wider and more complex compliance network and created obvious and popular benefits for all parties. It has only been scuppered by the UK government’s habit of caving to populist “direct democracy” – this time actually organized by Westminster itself.
    The seeming indifference by the government of the Irish Republic may also be a case of acceptance of the inevitable based on the UK government’s history of ignoring “direct democracy” from the other faction in N.I.
    What goes around, comes around.

  • Jack

    So, after years of sick warmongering and conspiracies about Trump being a Putin stooge, the verdict is here, there was no collusion,
    and now it seems the crazy anti-Trump conspiracy theorists will simply ingnore this fact and will instead create new conspiracy theories!

    “Mueller is not recommending any further indictments as part of his inquiry, which effectively ended Friday, according to a senior Justice Department official”

    I wonder how conspiracy theorist Luke Harding feels today ,
    Watch Aaron Maté Destroy Russiagate Propagandist and “Collusion” Author Luke Harding

  • Xavi

    Craig has this to say about the so-called People’s March

    “People who support the EU have the right to campaign and march today. But the undemocratic #Peoplesvote organisation is a comeback vehicle for Blairite war criminals who delivered illegal war.
    Don’t be used. War Criminals should not be platformed whatever platitudes they spout.”

    True enough. But I also agree with one of Craig’s respondents who says that the aim of the march leaders (a motley array of war criminals, has-been blairites, and so-called centrists) is not to persuade a majority of MPs to support a 2nd referendum – they know that is not going to happen – but rather to cynically sow division within the Labour movement.

    • Sharp Ears

      Campbell is all over the media today. Came on LBC this am quite breathless. Said he had been in up North. – reason for his breathlessness. His Twitter contains fairly aggressive posts.

      Still full of himself. ‘He also advised the Better Together campaign against independence for Scotland, and the Remain side in the EU referendum campaign. He continues to advise left of centre parties, in particular in the Balkans, where he has for some years been a strategic director for the Albanian Socialist Party, who won a landslide victory in June 2013, making Edi Rama Prime Minister, and a second term four years later.’
      An odious egoist.

      Q Does BLiar still employ him too? 🙂

    • Jo1

      “True enough. But I also agree with one of Craig’s respondents who says that the aim of the march leaders (a motley array of war criminals, has-been blairites, and so-called centrists) is not to persuade a majority of MPs to support a 2nd referendum – they know that is not going to happen – but rather to cynically sow division within the Labour movement.”

      Indeed. Watson’s presence was solely to sow division, or rather, the latest stage of it. David Miliband was apparently flying in for the march too. I think he is the Messiah they’re paving the way for, in due course. He’s never been out of the loop.

  • Republicofscotland

    Looks like the car industry has definitely lost confidence in the British government.

    “BMW Mini, Honda and Jaguar Land Rover are all going ahead with their planned shutdowns on the 29 March.”


    “Sky News can reveal that the Government has hundreds of gagging orders as part of its preparations for a no-deal.”

    🔹Home Office has signed over 100
    🔹Dept for Transport has signed 79
    🔹Dept of Health has signed 26
    🔹Brexit Dept has signed 7

  • Clark

    “The EU assault on cheese industries located outside of EU borders is absolutely relevant to the issue of Brexit.”

    1 – Disagree strongly
    2 – Disagree
    3 – Neither agree nor disagree
    4 – Agree
    5 – Agree strongly

  • BrianFujisan

    Johnathan Pie’s Latest Stint as the Very Pissed off Reporter – Reporting on Brexit from outside Parliament – is just Genius..

    Very clever guy..There’s a wee bit of almost everything in there. “ Where’s Guy Fawkes when you need him…”

    It’s Very funny at times
    Very true
    Very sad

  • Charles Bostock

    Meanwhile, here’s an excellent example of how bad news is always news and good news is simply not news : all quiet for quite a while now on the international Israel – Gaza border; no riots, no shootings. And the crossings are open as usual, thus allowing food and many other non-military goods into Gaza. A cause for happiness, surely, and certainly worth reporting as a small counter-balance to all the negative stuff that gets so gleefully reported.

    • Sharp Ears

      The actuality is as follows and this is the truth of it , if anybody is interested.

      ‘Israeli forces killed two Palestinians and injured 62 at the Great Return March in Gaza on Friday, while the UNHRC slammed Israel’s use of lethal and excessive force at the weekly protests that have been ongoing for almost a year.

      Jehad Harara was shot in the head east of Gaza City and Nidal Shatat was shot in the chest near the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, the Gaza Health Ministry reports.’

      2 shot dead by IDF in Gaza, 62 injured as UN slams Israel’s use of force (VIDEO)
      23rd March 2029. 11.38am

    • George

      Great stuff Charles and you’re so right. There should be headlines everywhere declaring: “AMAZING NEWS! ISRAEL HASN’T KILLED ANYONE TODAY!”

  • Charles Bostock

    I wonder if I might be allowed to recommend to readers a website I’ve come across and which, although it obviously has an agenda, does offer sometimes useful and little-known information about various lefties, the uber politically correct, pop stars turned political pundits, haters of different stripes and so on.

    It is the very aptly-named

    Well worth taking a gander at, give it a try ( you can’t post; just read the articles)

    • George

      “obviously has an agenda…… information about various lefties….. politically correct….. haters ……you can’t post; just read the articles”

      Sounds like your kind of website Charles.

  • Anon1

    Clive Lewis addressed the crowd at the People’s March earlier – a “Tory Brexit is a racist Brexit!”, he bellowed. What does this even mean? And what the f*ck is wrong with these people?

  • Tatyana

    Come on, it’s a Saturday evening, relax 🙂

    A russian guy married a Japanese girl, she is a singer and they both perform Alla Pugacheva’s song ‘Million of red roses’, composed by Raymond Pauls, Baltic composer.
    It is wonderful! I wish all people on the Earth could just create and enjoy, instead of hatred and killig each other.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    :Little winder that CM is having trouble writing an article about the Chagos people gaining indeoendence when Chinese influence has long been growing in the coumtries around South Africa, and the best thing that rthe West has for fighting it is the American secret arms in Diego Garcia.

    • giyane

      Trow. Are referring to the capture of the Huawei IT engineers on the Malaysian passenger airliner which was diverted to Diego Garcia ?

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