Nick Thomas-Symonds, MP made an urgent question yesterday on the Nothern Ireland backstop. During the debate Sir William Cash made the following intervention:
Nick Thomas-Symonds: (Urgent Question): To ask the Attorney General if he will make a statement on options for legally binding changes to the Northern Ireland protocol of the EU withdrawal agreement, which contains the backstop arrangement.
The Solicitor General: (…) The Government recognise the legitimate desire of Members on both sides of the House to understand the legal effect of the proposed withdrawal agreement. On 12 February, the Prime Minister set out ways in which legally binding changes to the backstop could be achieved. She explained that the UK and the EU would hold further talks to find a way forward. Those discussions are ongoing, and it would not be appropriate to provide a running commentary.
Sir William Cash: As you know, Mr Speaker, I raised this matter urgently with you yesterday. Does my hon. and learned Friend accept that it is essential that when the Attorney General has had his discussions with the EU, he tables, in compliance with his parliamentary obligations, any asserted “legally binding” treaty text, in black and white, in the House itself by Monday 25 February, so that my European Scrutiny Committee can fully assess and report to the House on its legal meaning and the substance, and he does not merely address some audience at a City law firm?
The Solicitor General: My hon. Friend raises an important point, and both the Attorney General and I take the work of his Committee, a Committee of this House, with the utmost gravity. I assure him that any work that is done with regard to legal texts will of course be shared at the appropriate moment. I think he will understand that I cannot give him an absolute commitment in terms of dates, but I have heard what he said and will certainly bear those comments very much in mind in the days ahead.