British Prime Minister May left Strasbourg Monday night with high hopes, but they were soon dashed when her own attorney general announced Tuesday morning that the “legal risk remains unchanged” despite new legal language added to the Brexit agreement.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox in a statement said the new framework does somewhat decrease the risk of the UK becoming “indefinitely and involuntarily detained within the Protocol’s provisions”. However, he added that in the case of a dispute between the EU and the UK, there would be no protections.
Legal expert Jonathan Lis, speaking to Euronews' political editor Darren McCaffrey in London ahead of Tuesday’s vote, said May’s negotiations “achieved almost nothing”. He added that the prime minister had promised to reopen the withdrawal agreement and find an alternative to the backstop while in Strasbourg and was unable to do either.
A vote will be held Wednesday night to decide whether the UK will leave the EU without a deal. If this fails to pass, MPs will vote Thursday on whether they would agree to an extension of Article 50.
“It might be convenient for some to choose the kind of valiant defeat of remaining than actually accept this painful ordeal of May’s Brexit, of which they’ll have to take their share of responsibility,” Lis said.
Gerard Batten, a British MEP and leader of the UK Independence Party, later repeated a similar sentiment, saying that May’s deal satisfied neither those who want to leave or those who wish to remain in the EU.
“We have a prime minister and a government and a majority of the House of Commons and the House of Laws that don’t want to leave anyway, which is why we’ve ended up with this ridiculous agreement that nobody wants.”
Jacqueline Foster, British MEP and deputy leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, later disagreed, saying the British MPs are more likely to go the opposite route.
“I believe there’s always been a hardcore from both sides — whether they are Remainers or hardcore leavers — that wouldn’t mind having a no-deal."
Click on the video player to watch the full debate.