Legal changes to the Brexit deal?

After the Withdrawal Agreement was voted down in Parliament on January 15 by 230 votes, the UK Government has focused on seeking changes to the Protocol on Northern Ireland and Ireland, known as the ‘backstop.’ The decisive majority in favour of the Brady amendment showed that with further clarifications on the operation of the backstop, a potential majority exists for a version of the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement. What could be the way forward? This paper outlines four historical precedents when the EU agreed additional legally-binding protocols or instruments, in order to help secure ratification of treaties or agreements which had already been signed off by its leaders. None offer an exact parallel for the UK’s current situation, but they show how the EU has been able to act flexibly in the past.

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