The Counsel General of Scotland, who advises the UK Government on legal matters, has resigned after maintaining public contradictions with the Minister of Northern Ireland and the Attorney General of the State. In his letter of resignation, Richard Keen writes to Boris Johnson: “In recent days it has been very difficult for me to reconcile my duties as a law enforcement officer and your political intentions with the law of the Internal Market.”
Keen, one of Scotland’s most prestigious and wealthiest lawyers, had already lost the argument with the State Attorney General, Suella Braverman, during the preparation of the bill, which also resulted in the resignation of the head of the Government Bar Service . The scotch defended that ministers would breach their code of ethics, taking part in the decision to break the Withdrawal Agreement, but was ignored.
Richard Keen also states in his resignation letter that he has tried to make “a respectable case” in defense of Johnson’s law. On Tuesday he told the House of Lords Committee on Justice that it is a vehicle for a emergency situation, would complement Article 16 of the Irish Protocol, which allows unilateral intervention by the United Kingdom or the European Union in the event of a risk of persistent harm to the Northern Irish economy or society.
For Lord Keen, Johnson’s rule also does not violate the Vienna Convention on International Treaties, because it would allow those agreements to be broken when there is a fundamental change in circumstances with respect to those existing at the time of signing. Lawyers and academics claim that, in their two attempts to file a respectable argument, Keen resorts to artifice. But his main problem was another.
Braverman, whose official text justifying the legality of Johnson’s project has been rated shameful by prominent academics, would also have participated in the drafting of what the Minister for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, should say on Monday, when asked in Parliament, on the first occasion by a Cabinet member, if the Government proposed to break the law international. Yes, but in a “specific and limited” way, he replied.
Lord Keen was questioned in the plenary session of the House of Lords on Tuesday afternoon about the contrast between what he had stated on Tuesday morning and Lewis on Monday. And the Scottish lawyer replied that his colleague ‘I had answered the wrong question». Government aides humorlessly rushed to defend Minister Lewis, who told the Northern Ireland Committee on Wednesday that he answered “the right question.”
Lord Keen, former president of the Conservative Party in Scotland and perhaps the most brilliant lawyer in the current Government, leaves the Government, and Braverman, lawyer from much lower professional rank that resigned but sign ‘brexiter’. It is another step in the transformation of the British Conservatives. And a saga with a sad ending for Johnson, who tried to avoid resignation. He would have already agreed to the amendment to the law with the conservative dissidents.