Brexit: Boris 'never properly read' WAB claims barrister
And one Westminster source has admitted there is disquiet among MPs concerned time is now running so short, with barely three weeks before the end of the transition period, they will have little time to scrutinise an agreement adequately. Raoul Ruparel was commenting on a remark by Clement Beaune, French European minister, who told French newspaper Le Journal de Dimanche: “The British tell us that they would only need 24 hours to achieve this ratification.”
I suspect 24 hours isn’t far off
Mr Ruparel, who was former Prime Minister Theresa May’s special adviser on Europe, suggested the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (CRAG) provided a mechanism whereby legislation could be pushed through at breakneck speed.
He tweeted: “I suspect the answer on CRAG will be that there is a line in any legislation saying the passage of the bill counts as fulfilling the CRAG process.”
In a reference to his time working for Mrs May, he added: “We looked at and drafted this for legislation around the Withdrawal Agreement. So I suspect 24 hours isn’t far off.”
He subsquently added: “Indeed, it was in the Withdrawal Agreement Act in the end. It disapplied the CRAG approval procedure for the WA. So suspect same would be done for future relationship.”
CRAG was passed in the last days of former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s time in office.
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I suspect 24 hours isn’t far off
The Bill requires international treaties to be laid before Parliament for 21 sitting days before they can be ratified.
However, if Mr Ruparel’s suggestion is correct, such provisions will not be a problem, because Section 32 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 states: “Section 20 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (treaties to be laid before Parliament before ratification) does not apply in relation to the withdrawal agreement (but this does not affect whether that section applies in relation to any modification of the agreement).”
Despite frantic ongoing negotiations, there is no guarantee the UK and the EU will be in a position to unveil a deal by December 31.
However, if they do, Parliament will want a chance to ratify the agreement – with the tightness of the schedule likely to limit the time MPs have to do so.
One well-informed Tory MP told Express.co.uk: “That is the worry.
“The Government will have to address that problem if we get a deal.”
The MP also suggested any push from the EU for further compromise was doomed to fail.
They added: “My sense is that the EU need to sort their own position out.
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“France threw a spanner in the works last week over fisheries.
“Our own position is unchanged and we are not moving.”
The MP nevertheless emphasised they were no worried about Parliament being “bounced” into a deal by the Government, adding: “I am genuinely sure the Government don’t want to do that.”
One EU diplomat today claimed the moment of truth was now fast approaching.
Referring to intensive talks by EU negotiator Michel Barnier and UK opposite number Lord David Frost, they said: “Barnier and Frost negotiated intensively and made some progress but not quite managed to bridge differences.
“There has been no decisive progress though some progress has been made.”
The insider suggested “robust and enforceable cooperation on state aid non-regression clause” and “stable access to UK waters” for EU fishing vessels were the outstanding issues.
They added: “We are at the make-it-or-break-it moment.”
Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney told RTE: “Having heard from Michel Barnier this morning, really the news is very downbeat.
“I would say he is very gloomy, and obviously very cautious about the ability to make progress today.
“There was news last night on some media sources that there was a breakthrough on fishing.
“That is absolutely not the case from what we’re hearing this morning.”
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