This statement is so carefully written, and fun to read just as carefully.
Let's go through the statement, as it is really so delightful
The 'Government has today published...'

Note: not the Treasury Solicitor, not the Attorney General's Office, not the Lord Chancellor

The 'Government'

And, indeed, oddly it was the Cabinet Office that published the 'statement'
Note also the passing jab at 'statement' - not even accorded the word 'opinion'

A mere assertion, not anything reasoned

Let's move on
'provisions that are contrary to our legal obligations'

No equitation: 'are' contrary

Not 'might be' or 'some would say may be'

'are'
Next, a beautiful civil service phrase

'staff will wish to note'

Ouch

That means: staff should not take what follows seriously

'note' here is brutal Whitehall-speak for something of the lowest possible import

And now the best bit
'that the Cabinet Secretary has determined that, notwithstanding the breach of international law...'

Wow

Not seen anything quite this brutal in Whitehall before

In terms, this (bare) 'determination' in defiance of the law is entirely on the Cabinet Secretary
But what is the determination?

Now this is the clever bit

'in executing this course of action agreed collectively by ministers...civil servants are acting within their obligations under...Civil Service Code'

In effect: officials' and government lawyers' backs are now covered
Significantly, this is *not* set out as his view as Treasury Solicitor, and he does not endorse this 'determination'

You will also notice the 'rightly' in the first sentence which is then conspicuous in its absence for the rest of the statement as he sets out the views of others
Only the concerns of colleagues are accorded 'rightly'

He *twice* state expressly the government is in breach of the law

This is taken as a straightforward fact
And the cherry, which makes this such a fun statement to interpret and analyse, is the masterful trolling in the use of the word 'notwithstanding'

You get the impression that the sentence with 'notwithstanding' in had to be worked so as to get the word into the statement
So a clever and subversive statement there from the government's chief legal official
Perhaps overall the most important thing about this is the sheer distance the Treasury Solicitor is putting between him and 'a statement' of the 'government'

There is some serious dislocation in government - more than even before

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More from @davidallengreen

12 Sep
"Ha ha, you thought Article 50 would never be triggered" come the occasional taunt

Looks around at the increasing political, policy, legal and economic chaos

'And this is why,' is my response

'No sane government would have inflicted this on itself'
My view, which has been consistent since the referendum, is that Brexit should have been done by a single overall treaty between UK and EU

Dealing with both exit and relationship issues

The Article 50 process was never fit for purpose as a means of departure for a member state
I am not a Remainer and I have never had any objection to Brexit in principle

I want UK's future to be as having close Association Agreement with EU - and I think this will suit UK and EU in medium to longer term

But the rush to to exit via A50 without thought was not rational
Read 7 tweets
11 Sep
This morning it all still seems so bizarre

A Conservative government is risking a full-blown constitutional crisis and destroying its international reputation over...

...increasing the role of public sector in subsidising otherwise uncompetitive private sector businesses

Odd
'Conservative' in that last tweet to be said in exactly the same way Neil Kinnock said 'Labour' in his famous speech on Militant
Missing in all this - as conspicuous as a missing witness statement - is the failure of UK government to explain why it wants to depart from EU State aid rules

What exactly is the UK's alternative vision of State aid?

And why does it require this big departure?

This is the gap
Read 7 tweets
9 Sep
Remarkable drafting on show here

In effect: 'notwithstanding' the provisions are in breach of the law
Clause 45(2)(a) says, in effect, this provision will have legal effect, regardless of it being unlawful

There is a certain beauty and deft elegance to the drafting of this most extraordinary and illiberal clause

They are really going to try this
In summary:

'This shall have legal effect notwithstanding it being held not to have legal effect'

Such brilliance makes you wonder why it has never been tried before
Read 4 tweets
8 Sep
French fishermen are no doubt looking forward to breaching international law in "specific" ways
Spain is no doubt looking forward to breaching international law regarding Gibraltar in "specific" ways
Argentina is no doubt looking forward to breaching international law regarding the Falkland Islands in "specific" ways
Read 6 tweets
8 Sep
This is significant, so very significant
The head of the government legal service is also, historically, the Treasury Solicitor

A grand title and position, as worthy as the Attorney General and Lord Chancellor

The late great @HenryBrooke1 wrote a detailed post on the role here sirhenrybrooke.me/2016/10/27/the…
Read 13 tweets
7 Sep
The suggestion that a sovereign state cannot be sovereign when it is party to a treaty is inherently absurd, as the modern notion of a sovereign state is that it is a state capable of entering into a treaty
The modern nation state, at least in the west, derives in part from the treaty of Westphalia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westphali…

To say that being party to a treaty negates being a sovereign state is to, well, be ignorant of four hundred years of history, law and diplomacy
Even the EU, which can in certain circumstances also be a party to certain international agreements, can only do so because of the prior terms of the two treaties of EU between the 27 sovereign member states

Being able to freely enter into treaties is what sovereign states *do*
Read 5 tweets

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