EU deal ‘will not be legally binding’

Topics: Government & politics

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A government deal over continued EU membership will not be legally binding, according to analysis published today by a cross-party organisation campaigning for ‘Brexit’.

‘An unsigned contract: the legal effect of the renegotiation’, published by Vote Leave, states that any agreement between the government and other EU member states ‘will have the same legal status as an unsigned contract’.


Prime minister David Cameron is this week meeting European leaders. Following discussions with French president Francois Hollande yesterday, a spokesperson for the PM’s office said the pair ‘agreed we are making good progress on the UK renegotiation and that the draft test from the European Council provides a firm basis to reach agreement at this week’s summit’.

However, Vote Leave’s report states that the European Court of Justice (pictured) will only accept a ratified treaty change. The time required for all member states to ratify a treaty means this will not be possible should a UK referendum be held this year.

An intergovernmental agreement, such as one agreed between Denmark and other member states in 1992, would be ignored by the court.

The court would also not necessarily enforce the agreement if it were registered at the UN, says the report.

The group says a political agreement between EU states would have ‘no legal significance’ and that ‘anyone’ would be able to challenge it in the English courts.

Vote Leave chief executive Matthew Elliott said the only way to obtain a ‘legally binding and irreversible’ change to the UK’s relationship with the EU was to vote leave in the referendum.

Elliott said: ‘David Cameron is asking voters to sign up to hand more money and power to Brussels on the back of supposed reforms that will have the legal weight of an unsigned contract.’

Readers' comments (50)

  • Jesus H Christ!!!

    What part of the MAJORITY of PEOPLE in this country WISH For US to LEAVE the EU, does DAVID CAMERON and his GOVERNMENT NOT GET!!!

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  • thank you for that thoughtful response. Capital letters in the middle of sentences make it sound so considered- just what one would expect from a legal practitioner rather than a reader of Sun editorials..

    I imagine we will be getting many more thoughtful responses of this nature . Maybe i will just look at the Sun instead.

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  • Hotep - what majority are you referring to? I don't know anybody personally who wants to leave the EU.

    Perhaps I spend too long up North and am overly influenced my by own family's rather horrible experiences of what happened in the pre-union Europe...

    In any event, might the title of this piece have been made a little less misleading by stating clearly that a Brexit supporting group made the statement?

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  • I do, Hotep. I am a Eurofile, but do not see that we need to be attached to Europe like a Siamese twin. I am fed up with their directives. I have seen fishing fleets destroyed on the basis of some edict from Brussels. I have seen farmers set aside viable land. I have seen the law reports framed full of Eurocentric decisions.

    I love Europe, but I cannot wait to leave. We are not the same as them. Come to think of it the French are not the same as the Germans and have a proud history of not getting on too well. We have been at daggers and swords drawn with the French from 14 October 1066 to 18 June 1815. And none of them obey the rules which we seem to believe we should slavishly follow. The European Court said UK nationals do not have to pay NICs on taxable capital gains in France because we pay them here. But the French are changing their law to reverse that decision.

    Yes, they will pour fire and brimstone over us for leaving, but that is no reason at all for staying.

    "Up yours, Delors", is my watchword! And I bet all Cameroon's politicking will have little effect compared to what Murdoch and The Sun and the Times decide is good for us.

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  • @ anon 12.39

    I am referring to the recent poles published, if any such information is to be believed.

    And I think that the Government would have a lot to say if such info was not true, as it inevitably has the potential to work against their intentions, which is for the UK to stay in.

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  • Hotep (anon 12.39 here) - I have no doubt that a significant number of people do want to exit, it was not my intention to dismiss you out of hand.

    I am however suspicious of any polls taken at this stage or, worse still, any taken during the height of the refugee crisis last year. I certainly share the Americans' concerns that this referendum will be decided by circumstance and not substance.

    In any event, the people will decide. I for one hope that we don't take that huge leap into the dark (because let's be honest, none of us know what the real consequences would be and, more honestly still, we could end up in a situation where the UK is almost as heavily influenced by the EU as it is now but without any power or say in how things are done).

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  • I agree with David.We should remain daggers drawn with the rest of europe.Being in the EU means it is going to be really difficult to go to war with other members.The sooner we are out of it and can prevent any more psekey foreigners coming here and stealing our benefits the better.

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  • I agree with John, at least when he agrees with me i do! But we do need to be able to defend ourselves from military attack, i e with enough fighter aircraft and ships to do that job, and against terrorist attacks and economic migrants. We shall be all right on our own, at least if we all pull together we shall be. If we stay in the EU we shall be dragged down by the weight of our financial contributions and compliance with their pettifogging rules and regulations, bailing our Greece, Italy, Spain and France, etc etc.

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  • I'm not sure what the fuss is about.

    All treaties, nations, the EU, and maybe the law itself, are only real or legally enforceable (whatever that is in this context) to the extent that people generally believe in them. Once belief has gone, they don't exist.

    I'm reading an excellent book about the Holy Roman Empire at the moment. Please no replies that it was not etc etc etc. It lasted for 1000 years because people believed in it - not in the main by force of arms.

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  • David you have adopted BBCspeak. It is not a case of whether we leave "Europe" (prompt for sneers at "little Englanders") it is a case of whether we come out of the EU.

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