How Cox's 'codpiece' might save the day and allow PM's Brexit deal to pass

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Attorney General Sir Geoffrey Cox, pictured, is attempting to write a codicil to the Government's Brexit withdrawal agreement with the EU which will alleviate concerns of Tory back benchers to the Northern Ireland back stop

Attorney General Sir Geoffrey Cox, pictured, is attempting to write a codicil to the Government's Brexit withdrawal agreement with the EU which will alleviate concerns of Tory back benchers to the Northern Ireland back stop

Hopes of breaking the deadlock over the controversial Northern Ireland backstop rest on Attorney General Geoffrey Cox's legally binding addition to the Brussels divorce text.

The document, called a codicil, is the subject of intensive talks between British and EU negotiators as Brexit Day approaches.

Sir Geoffrey, the Government's top lawyer, sunk Mrs May's first attempt to get her Brexit deal through the Commons after his legal advice said the UK could be trapped in the backstop indefinitely.

He has now presented the codicil to Brussels – and, if it is accepted, it would allow the respected QC to change his advice to MPs.

However, the codicil falls far short of the fixed-time limit on the backstop demanded by Brexiteers, who have already mockingly dubbed the legal document 'a codpiece'.

However, the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has indicated he does not believe the UK will have enough time to approve Theresa May's withdrawal deal by the scheduled exit date of March 29.

Mr Barnier suggested a 'technical extension' of up to two months may be needed.

The Prime Minister has told MPs they will have a 'meaningful vote' on her withdrawal plans by March 12.

Asked if he thought it was possible to reach an agreement by March 29, even if Westminster gave the green light this month, Mr Barnier told Spain's El Mundo newspaper: 'No.'

Referencing a technical extension, Mr Barnier added: 'But you'll have to ask the United Kingdom. If there is a vote on the 12th and it takes two months to carry out the procedure, it would be justified.'

Mrs May has said that if her deal is rejected by Parliament, MPs will be able to vote on whether the UK can leave the EU in a no-deal scenario, and if that is rejected, the Commons can decide on whether to extend Article 50 and delay Brexit for a limited period.

EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier said he did not believe Britain will be in a position to leave the EU on March 29 and will require an Article 50 extension

EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier said he did not believe Britain will be in a position to leave the EU on March 29 and

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