Withholding The £39 Billion Will Be Illegal Says Attorney General

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Britain’s Attorney General states that withholding the £39 billion divorce settlement with the European Union would be illegal. The thing to note about this is that the Attorney General is a political position and his advice is thus political. Sure, the conceit is that he’s an impartial law officer put into government so that there is an impartial adviser upon what the law is. But that’s to miss the fact that he’s also a politician with all the usual political desires and wiles:

Cox legal advice could thwart Boris Johnson’s plan to withhold Brexit bill payments

The standard joke is the desire to find a one handed economist – any three will have at least 6 opinions on any one subject. This is as nothing to the number of palms in a gathering of lawyers, only some of which are waiting to be crossed with silver. That’s rather going to be the outcome in any adversarial system of justice – rather the point in fact. That either and every side of each instance can and will be argued.

Boris Johnson will have to over-rule existing government legal advice if he wants to make good on his promise to withhold the £39bn Brexit bill in order to win a better deal from the EU, The Telegraph can reveal. Mr Johnson, who is now hot favourite to win the Tory leadership contest, has threatened to “retain” the promised financial settlement until the European Union has provided “greater clarity” about the future EU-UK trading relationship. However several Whitehall sources have confirmed that on-record internal legal advice from Geoffrey Cox, the attorney-general, has warned that linking Brexit bill payments to the progress of any trade talks would be illegal.

Not that it matters particularly because the argument being made is not that “We’ll keep the money until you do what we want on trade”. It is, instead “Nothing is agreed until all is agreed” which is exactly what the EU itself has been saying. And who can argue against a negotiating tactic which is precisely what has been insisted upon from the start?

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