Brexit Backstop Judicial Review

Brexit Backstop Judicial Review

Who we are

Lord Trimble won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the negotiations that led to the Belfast 'Good Friday' Agreement.  He has come together with fellow concerned individuals Jeffrey Dudgeon and Ruth Dudley Edwards who wish to see the UK leave the EU with a withdrawal agreement that delivers certainty and stability, and also respects the Good Friday Agreement.

The case

We are seeking a judicial review of the backstop in the withdrawal agreement that the prime minister agreed in November but was rejected by Parliament in January, to make the government use the proper channels under the Good Friday Agreement to reach solutions with Ireland and the EU.

The case is the only show in town that is seeking a pathway to Brexit and a Withdrawal Agreement.

It provides a route to a negotiated exit, meeting the democratic mandate of the vote to leave the EU and the commitments of the UK government it addresses the concerns of businesses and communities on both side of the Irish border. It would also respect and make use of the Belfast agreement in the way that it was intended, to support the totality of the relationships within the United Kingdom and Ireland.

We need £20,000 for the legal fees for the first stage of the challenge.  Please support us by donating, and sharing with friends whatever their political persuasion as we seek a constructive, bipartisan solution.  All funds will go to the legal team working on the case.


The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March 2019. As it stands at present, unless the EU agrees to re-open the Withdrawal Agreement reached by the prime minister in November to amend the Irish backstop protocol, Parliament seems unlikely to ratify it, raising the real possibility that there will be no deal.

On 29 January Parliament passed the so-called 'Brady Amendment' which accepted the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement subject to replacing the backstop with alternative arrangements.

We have put together a legal challenge to the government, for the administrative court in London that would compel it to respect the Belfast 'Good Friday' Agreement in achieving such alternative arrangements.  We need to move quickly in the window created by the passing of the Brady amendment for progress to be made before 29 March.  It is supported by Lord Trimble, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The case is based upon six propositions:

  • one, the political consensus on ‘no hard border’ within Northern Ireland, Ireland and the United Kingdom;
  • two, the Belfast agreement could, and should, be used to achieve this, through the British-Irish intergovernmental conference, an east-west institution (bilateralism);
  • three, the attorney general has confirmed that, under the Withdrawal Agreement, Northern Ireland will be treated differently from Great Britain, remaining in the customs union and the single market for goods and horizontal measures – this to ‘endure indefinitely’;
  • four, the Republic of Ireland, as a voting member state of the EU, would be exercising governmental functions in Northern Ireland, contrary to the consent principle of the Belfast agreement;
  • five, the UK/EU negotiations of 2017-18 have reached an impasse, though the Republic of Ireland permitted the EU to use the Good Friday agreement, incorrectly, to justify the backstop);
  • six, the 432 votes against ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement by the UK Parliament on 15 January 2019, have now become the 317 votes to 301, endorsing the Withdrawal Agreement subject to ‘alternative arrangements’ to replace the backstop.

Alternative arrangements have been put forward in various proposals describing technical and legal solutions. The case is intended to persuade the UK government – either by concession or order – to seek to begin immediately a work programme with the Irish government on no hard border.

The work programme and the removal of the backstop in its current form might preserve the other elements of the agreement by 29 March. Work could then continue through the implementation period to 31 December 2020.

The UK would be out of the EU. The financial settlement would be preserved. The rights of citizens would be safeguarded. The future relations negotiations could begin. An agreed Irish border is practicable, in the right political circumstances.

Claimant: Lord Trimble, Ruth Dudley Edwards and Lord Bew
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