Government legal head quits over threat to Northern Ireland protocol – FT

The FT's Sebastian Payne is reporting that the head of the UK Government's Legal Department, Sir Jonathan Jones, has resigned over attempts to undermine the UK's obligations under the EU withdrawal agreement.

 Individuals close to Sir Jonathan said he was “very unhappy” about the decision to overwrite parts of the Northern Ireland protocol, part of the 2019 withdrawal agreement, with new powers in the UK internal market bill (Sebastian Payne, Financial Times). 

The news comes as the Northern Ireland Secretary is due to answer an urgent question on the protocol from Labour shadow Louise Haigh at 12.30 today. (The exchange will be live on Commons TV and no doubt elsewhere.)

Legal commentator David Allen Green explained on Twitter that Sir Jonathan's post, known as Treasury Solicitor until 2015, is 'responsible for ensuring government operates within the law on a day to day basis, as well as dealing with litigation.' In February, Jones told the Institute for Government's Raphael Hogarth that 'fundamentally, international law is the law.'

After a day in which the government had played down the implications of the internal market bill, Sir Jonathan's departure would suggest that the threat to the protocol, and hence to the Brexit negotiations as a whole, is substantial.







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