There is a solution to the backstop deadlock. If Cox and Grieve can put subpoenas envy behind them and find a form of words that will time limit it with force of law the deal is done

5 Feb 2019 at 08:28

There is not a lot of humour in Brexit, but perhaps I could be forgiven a little chuckle when I read that Martin Selmayr, whom carpet biters regard as the the sperm of the devil, asked the opinion of Andrea Jenkyns about a matter of national importance. It was quite clever really because our Andrea, not perhaps blessed with the judgement of Solomon nor the wisdom of Confucius, is the Brexiteer’s Brexiteer. She has never been Brexit vegan. More the full blood spattered, throat slitting, goat bleating Halal. And without wishing to be too unkind, her answer to the tricky question of whether she would support Madame’s deal if backstop assurances were given legal force, her answer was a cross between a Sunderland Nissan car worker and Mark Francois on not being beastly to the Germans. Talking about Frank, where was our Canvey Island Cicero when you need him? Surely he had a relative who fought the Japs in the war? “I ain’t going to be bullied by no Nip”, he might have said.

But back to our Andrea, “Er, eighty percent”, she squealed. How strange. Selmayr had given the hint of an assurance that a few days ago would have been a slam dunk for the deal. The fact is that our Andrea had been cornered. She knew what the Ergonaut policy was a few days ago, but not sure what it is today. I blame Owen Paterson Spode and his badgers. So we await the Papal Bull in a china shop from his holiness Mogg.

There is a solution to all of this. There is an ancient club whose members stick together like shit to a blanket. The Attorney General’s Club. They are delightful old cynics who have seen it all. And they share the camaraderie of knowing that their advice will be lauded as sage and magnificent if it fits in with their political masters and derided as delusional if not. So Cox and Grieve, get your heads together and work out the ultimate face saver. Find a form of words that the EU can agree that sets a legally binding time lock on the backstop. This has to be a joint effort and a joint statement. Boys, put subpoenas envy behind you and earn the nations’s gratitude

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