The Realities of Being Global: Treaty Law and Brexit
Throughout the two years of Brexit debates following Article 50 notification, the UK Government and Parliament consistently have failed to recognise that even if EU law is no longer applicable after Brexit, the UK is still bound to a broad gamut of rules under international law. Apparently attempting to appease Brexiteers, on 11 March Theresa May offered a unilateral statement to the EU on the UK interpretation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in relation to the backstop set out therein. In a similar vein, two days later, Geoffrey Cox MP argued that article 62 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties [PDF] (Vienna Convention) offered an easy out of the Withdrawal Agreement and Northern Ireland backstop if a more acceptable arrangement could not be reached in the coming years. Now pundits, politicians, and academics alike are expending great energy trying to ascertain what effect the unilateral statement or article 62 may have on the Withdrawal Agreement in future. Put simply, the statement has no legal effect. Article 62 is not a panacea and both the UK government and Parliament would do well to stop relying on concepts in international law to cure all that is disagreeable with the Brexit process. International law supports the precise opposite positions asserted in both of these circumstances. If the aim in leaving the EU is to ‘be global’ without the filter of EU regulations…
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