The Attorney General writes me a letter

I know some of you thought it odd that the Attorney did not reply to my letter, but I eventually got a reply from the Secretary of State for exiting the EU. You will be pleased to know that yesterday I did also get a reply from the Attorney himself, so any criticism on that score is misfounded.

I am used to government departments sending letters to other government departments for reply. I am also used to the idea of collective responsibility, so I assume the government department that sent it to another agrees completely with the answer the responding department offers, and has had an opportunity to comment on the line taken when the matters covered were settled by government or when the letter is answered.

I thought I should share the Attorney’s letter with you as people will want to make up their own minds about the balance of argument on this important constitutional matter.

The Attorney wrote:

“I am writing further to your emails of 14 and 18 April concerning the Withdrawal Agreement.

The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has now responded to your queries on behalf of the Department for Exiting the European Union, which is the department responsible for overseeing negotiations to leave the EU and establishing the future relationship between the EU and the UK. I have seen the letter dated 14 May 2019, the substantive contents of which I agree with.”

This is an unusual letter, as normally the government only sends one reply to a query. It is interesting that it explains to me how the negotiations over the EU are conducted without mentioning the prominent roles of the Prime Minister, Mr Robbins and the Cabinet Office who I thought had been leading the talks. It is also interesting because it does not simply say the Attorney agrees with the government’s letter, but he agrees with “the substantive contents” which are not separately identified.




  1. Ian wragg
    May 17, 2019

    Whitewashed. Where is the legal opinion.
    You should publicly demand it.

  2. Peter Wood
    May 17, 2019

    Sir John,

    Perhaps the Attorney G could also tell you what the 1922 press release letter means; is Mrs. May bound in any way to honour it? What happens if the Government decides to withdraw the Bill? How long will Mrs May have to resign following the second reading?

    With so many learned members in the Party I’d have thought a better commitment could have been drafted. Another cop-out?

    Reply A good set of questions. Drafting by a committee with people disagreeing often produces imprecise language

    1. Nigo
      May 17, 2019

      Maybe a thrashing in the Euro elections and Peterborough will stiffen their resolve?

      1. James1
        May 17, 2019

        So the cross party Brexit talks have been scrapped. Well, gosh, what a huge shock. The word ‘pathetic’ doesn’t adequately describe this further extension of the shambles created by Mrs May and her so-called leadership of the largely non-Conservative Party. Is it any wonder that from a standing start in excess of 100,000 people have joined the Brexit Party within less than two months.

    2. William1995
      May 17, 2019

      Presumably the language is deliberately vague because May thinks saying she’ll certainly go will decrease the chances of her bill passing. The articles I’ve read say inside sources think it is basically certain that she will leave in that first week of June regardless.

      Hopefully Brexiteers are gathering behind one candidate behind closed doors and already organising a campaign. Look at how Farage hit the ground running with a clear message and is now polling extremely well. With a bit of organisation, the same could be done by a Conservative brexiteer leadership campaign.

      1. William1995
        May 17, 2019

        Sir John, when might you be announcing who you’d support in a leadership bid? Perhaps you’d consider running yourself?

        1. Turboterrier.
          May 17, 2019

          William 1995

          Perhaps you’d consider running yourself?

          I am surely not alone in wishing that he would.

      2. Simeon
        May 17, 2019

        Friend, I think you’re away with the fairies. I haven’t heard a single Brexiter advance their candidacy. The great blonde hope is not a Brexiter, and nor is the karate kid – or indeed anyone who voted for the WA. The genuine Brexiters, such as Sir John, are sidelined. There is zero chance of a Brexiter being elected leader. And this is why the Conservative party are toast.

        1. John Hatfield
          May 17, 2019


  3. agricola
    May 17, 2019

    Politicos playing pass the parcel. Just one more example of the establishment showing it’s contempt for those whose taxes pay for this circus. Swamp draining time looms.

    1. Alan Jutson
      May 17, 2019


      Agreed, Barclay has been set up as the Patsy who will take the fall if it is all proven wrong, because his name is on the bottom of the letter.

      The Attorney General agrees with most of the comments, but which ones, and which ones does he not agree with.

      Will the full legal advice to the Cabinet ever be published before the next vote ?

  4. Roy Grainger
    May 17, 2019

    Collective responsibility broke down ages ago and now everyone in government is just pushing their own agenda, positioning themselves for advancement under the next leader.

    May’s latest humiliation of the 1922 committee was perhaps a little too clever – the implication that she would resign if her WA is defeated again should be enough to have lots of her opponents on all side vote against it, just on the off-chance that for once she was speaking the truth.

  5. Roy Grainger
    May 17, 2019

    I haven’t seen much coverage in the press, but on the EU side what is the lie of the land likely to be after the EU elections ? I assume the ridiculous Guy Verhofstadt will not be so prominent given the predicted influx of populists, but will Tusk and Barnier still be in place ? And I assume the Commissioners are all changed ? Are the prospects for a sensible re-negotiation of the WA likely to be enhanced or reduced with the new political make-up ?

    Reply There will be a completely new Commission. The EU election now includes debates between candidates for the role of President which the UK media fails to tell us about! These however do not determine who becomes President, as that most powerful role is not directly voted by the electors. The member states and the new Parliament have to agree on an candidate after our vote. My conclusion is there will be a bigger Eurosceptic/populist opposition, but the etsablishment will still have a majority, only with more differing parties in it, including En March and may be Liberals and even the Greens.

    1. Annette
      May 17, 2019

      Historically, the ‘President’ is chosen from the largest ‘group’ in the EU Parliament. It goes some way to explaining why Verhofstadt is ‘campaigning’ for the Illiberal Anti-Democrats. If the Eurosceptics band together as a group the status quo might change.

    2. Bryan Harris
      May 17, 2019

      @ Roy Grainger / Reply

      Wasn’t the EU commission president originally decided by the council of ministers from nation states? This was overridden last time as the EUP flexed its muscles and decided that the political grouping within the EUP with most MEP’s should see their leader become president – Hey, that was almost democratic, except it bypasses any power the council once had… and was never a part of the agreed design – consider it a power grab.
      Does anyone recall another humiliation for the UK when Cameron could not block Juncker being slotted into place?

  6. Julie Williams
    May 17, 2019

    Would the Attorney General like to provide a definition of “substantive” as one man’s substantive may not be another’s?
    A classic example of the behaviour which voters are getting pretty sick of.
    This government should reflect on the fact that they and their opposite numbers gave birth to the Brexit Party.

    1. David M
      May 18, 2019

      Julie Williams

      Giving birth to The BREXIT Party may just be the single most important positive action of the last nearly five decades ! I speak as one whose business was Exporting British and latterly American and Eastern European goods to the World – not without success , but certainly always with the fullest obstructionism possible from our other “Member States” inside the EU political cabal !

      Nigel Farage – I openly admit – is MY HERO ! The entire Westminster ( and Whitehall ) anti-democracy and contra-constitutional lobby will I hope soon get their come-uppance and need to find alternative financial support for their traitors club.

  7. Pominoz
    May 17, 2019

    Sir John,

    Interesting indeed the reference to substantive contents. The fact that the AG does not simply say that he is in agreement with the entirety seems to suggest that he disagrees with something Stephen Barclay has written. I wonder what that is? Perhaps it is the implied threat at the end, but probably not.

    The whole thing stinks – as so many who visit your site already agree. PMs prevarication on her leaving date simply tells me that she has played the 1922 lot yet again. She probably retains the ambition of becoming one of the longest serving prime ministers ever!

  8. Alison
    May 17, 2019

    It sounds as if the DexEU Secretary of State’s letter contains what the Attorney General views as one or more mistakes – mistakes in terms of content, also possibly mistakes in tactical terms (‘why did you say it that way? oh dear, oh dear’).
    So it also sounds as if the AG is giving himself room to say, about the Secretary of State’s letter, ‘not me, gov’.

    1. Julie Dyson
      May 17, 2019

      That would be my reading of it also. It brings to mind that amusing little ditty “The Sidestep” sung by the Governor of Texas in the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

      “Ooooo I love to dance a little sidestep… Now you see me now you don’t, I come and go…”

      Seems to be the anthem of the political class these days, too. Nothing changes…

  9. Oggy
    May 17, 2019

    So the 1922 committee got nowhere.
    Quite frankly it’s a complete utter shambles and farce.

    Parliament will get it’s answer next week what their employers think about them, and it is not going to be pretty.

    1. James Bertram
      May 17, 2019

      A crushing editorial on Brexit Facts4EU website today:
      Does anyone still know a Conservative voter?
      ‘…. Looking at things objectively, we now see MPs who have no ability to act and no ability to take control of their own interests, let alone the ability to take back control of our country from the EU…. Every time Mrs May stands up in the House of Commons, or makes a TV appearance, she is lying. She is not delivering Brexit. Full stop. In fact she’s trying to deliver something far, far worse….’
      Their final note is the only good thing they have to say regards the current Tory Party:
      ‘Note: There are a significant but small number of Conservative MPs who have stood proud and strong, and who have refused to vote for Mrs May’s surrender treaty. We will be publishing more about them in the coming days, as well as about the small number of brave Labour MPs who have also stood out.’
      I think this must refer to you in part, Sir John. I look forward to what they have to say.

  10. Dominic
    May 17, 2019

    You’re a natural conservative which is seen as a weakness by May. Thatcher wasn’t a natural conservative. She understood that change must be revolutionary in nature and her actions created such dramatic change that saved the UK from itself.

    We need politicians who are revolutionary rather than politicians who accept the rules and confinements imposed upon them. We’ve had to tolerate these restrictions since we joined the EU under Heath

    Farage understands that to achieve full UK exit one has to reject contemporary rules of engagement as those rules have been designed to prevent change from happening

    Unfortunately Tory Eurosceptics accept the restrictions placed upon them. That is their Achilles Heel. So May can roll out the tears at the facile 1922-C gathering and the 1922-C roll over. It’s pathetic to watch. Almost nauseating.

    May will win the day because Tory Eurosceptic MPs refuse to burn the rule book. Can you imagine what would have happened if Thatcher had adopted that timid, conventional approach in 1979?

    There are pivotal moments in history when being seen to do the right thing is the wrong thing to do. Acting to achieve a fundamental aim should be the only thing that matters

  11. Mark B
    May 17, 2019

    Good morning

    So they side-stepped a difficult issue. Par for the course.

  12. agricola
    May 17, 2019

    I now note “The queen is dead” and all the runners and riders are emerging from the woodwork to replace her rotten government. In my humble opinion no member of her cabinet has any credibility, nor has anyone who has failed to be unequivocal about Leave. All remain fellow travellers have had their day in trying to thwart the will of the electorate. Parliamentary conservatives will no doubt prevaricate, it is what they do. It is down to conservative members in the country at large to ensure we get a PM intent on carrying out Brexit. Every negative to this end will be picked up by the Brexit Party as a possitive. Failure to deliver, with or without an agreement will spell the end of the conservative party. It is long overdue that the positive aspects of no deal WTO terms were widely disseminated. Outside a small grouping, of which this diary is largely one, it’s story is largely untold. All we have had is a plague of frogs from remain.

  13. formula57
    May 17, 2019

    “This is an unusual letter, as normally the government only sends one reply..” – indeed but it is very welcome that Attorney General Cox is acting to mitigate his correspondence-challenged status. Time will tell if it does him any good with the UnBrexit Activities Committee but I have my doubts.

  14. Tom Weston
    May 17, 2019

    Pure obfuscation…but then Sir Geoffrey Cox is a lawyer, and a very clever one so he is well-versed in obfuscation. He leaves just enough doubt to cover himself if further evidence emerges.

    1. M Guntrip
      May 17, 2019

      I would not say that obfuscation is clever. Some might say it is a cover for deceit.

  15. Searkey
    May 17, 2019

    He agrees that you fail to grasp that the WA takes the UK out of the EU. He agrees that your depiction of the UK’s financial obligations and the role of the ECJ postBrexit are facile and exaggerated. He agrees that your misapprehension of the plans to keep the Irish border open and invisible is total. He isnt going to waste any more time on you. Clear as day

    1. John McHugh
      May 17, 2019

      Misapprehension? Can you tell me where AG states this in his letter? Lord Trimble, Nobel Peace prize winner for his part in the GFA) states the GFA is in no way affected by the soft border issue so where is the misapprehension coming from?

    2. stred
      May 17, 2019

      He agrees to substantively agree that the clearly written clauses of the WA are not Brexit in Name Only, although this document, considered to reduce the UK to colonial status by the Commission and interpreted by a number of legally qualified persons, does no such thing. This is in order to cover for his client who has informed the HoC that the agreement allows the UK to negotiate trade deals independently and control other matters, as detailed in the referendum and manifesto, when it does not.

      The fact that so many Conservative MPs are willing to ignore the various legal opinions and the actual text of the WA leads the electorate to the conclusion that they should vote for some other party next time. If these MPs think that by combining with Labour, who will prefer to avoid the European elections and keep May and her welchers in place until a general election at the end of the transition, and pass her EU-written capitulation, you may please Mr Verhofsadt but not most of your previous member and supporters. Why not join the Chukkers. They are doing well in the polls at 2%.

  16. NickW
    May 17, 2019

    Sir John;

    Do I understand correctly that the Withdrawal Bill under discussion is to implement the Withdrawal Agreement that Parliament has explicitly rejected three, (or is it four, I’ve lost count) times? How is this possible?

    Is this simply another underhand way of getting Parliament to consider an agreement that it has already rejected?

  17. George Brooks
    May 17, 2019

    Clever wording and the AG has decided to look after his own skin!

    This goes back to November last year when, against the PM’s will, the AG was forced to publish the advice he had given the cabinet on the WA. This sucked him down the deep hole that she was digging for herself and the cabinet.
    As a lawyer and an honest man this was a place he did not want to be and if he answered your letter directly it could possible cement his position in TM’s dugout. By getting the Brexit Secretary to send you a ‘waffley’ reply containing a lot of previously published propaganda on the WA it has given him a possible route back to the surface.

    You are right Sir John, he has not agreed to anything specific and now has got a bit more freedom to look after his own reputation, as the Brexit saga continues to unfold and the PM dreams up more tricks in an endeavour to push the WA through parliament.

    1. Fred H
      May 17, 2019

      george…spot on. The guy is trying to agree with you, and to say the previous ‘advice’ to you was also correct. Nearing the time he may well be thrown out by the angry next PM, he is gently casting a net for support. IMO….too late. He’s got the blood of a failure to exit on his hands.

      Lady Macbeth: Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!

    2. Steven
      May 17, 2019

      He is not an honest man. He voted for the Surrender agreement, which makes him an enemy of democracy and this country.

      1. David M
        May 18, 2019

        Steven – I could not possibly disagree with your clear observations !

  18. Bryan Harris
    May 17, 2019

    More wool from the Attorney, not to mention sloping shoulders.

    Clearly this is case of too much detail for the answer to be non-descript from the Attorney, which is why he allowed the Brexit secretary to answer, bypassing the legal angle.

    This is the type of response we have come to expect from the establishment bureaucracy unable to supply a completely honest response.

  19. Brian Tomkinson
    May 17, 2019

    You addressed your letter to the Attorney presumably because you wanted his legal opinion on the many important points of detail you raised therein. He side-stepped that by passing it to the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. His agreement with “the substantive contents” does not adequately address or answer your letter it merely relates to the contents of the reply. We expect little from this rotten government and next week millions will show that in the EU elections by voting for the Brexit Party.

  20. Steven
    May 17, 2019

    The EU are on camera saying that this ‘withdrawal agreement’ makes us an EU colony.
    On that basis, how could you allow the traitor in Downing Street another shot at in Parliament?

    Can I ask, John, is it possible for a second referendum to be added to the surrender treaty as an amendment, and if so, how are you going to stop Thereason from doing this in her last desperate effort to scuttle our country as she is dragged kicking and screaming out of Downing Street?

    1. David M
      May 18, 2019

      Steven – Under the present circumstances I am coming closer to supporting a Royal Pardon for Guido Fawkes – perhaps he was not as mistaken as was hitherto claimed !

  21. ukretired123
    May 17, 2019

    Hot potatoes all round get passed around!

    Having thrown down the gauntlet it has been like a hand grenade panic scenario challenging the very foundations and basic assumptions of our governance and delegated to unqualified politicians who can only waffle, waffle, waffle, cough er, er, h’m, hun etc.

    Your request has put them in rather a spot that they cannot confidently answer as the Agreement is too long, too imprecise and too complex deliberately designed to be untangleable and allow the ECJ to interpret in favour of Brussels EU Superstate in future and most importantly deter other countries from leaving EU – blocked and crocked!

  22. ChrisS
    May 17, 2019

    Clearly the Attorney agrees with some of the content but not all of it !

  23. Iago
    May 17, 2019

    What a weasel.

  24. ChrissyG
    May 17, 2019

    What a poor excuse of a man the AG is. First he passes the hot potato & then he attempts an act of noble contrition. He truly believes he can delude the fools. We must all show patience; change is coming.

  25. Caterpillar
    May 17, 2019

    An interesting reply. It is a clear statement of the department that should have been responsible for the negotiations, and yet has had two Brexit secretaries walk. It is also clear that 100% agreement does not exist in the reply – contents of completeness?

    Some might view the reply as a feeble, wriggle room, lawyer response. In contrast, I find myself wondering whether, (i) it is a public criticism that the PM should have let the responsible department fulfil its role and (ii) it is a brave signal that those who have doubt are right to do so.

  26. Dennis Zoff
    May 17, 2019

    Question: How does one remove the 1922 Committee?

    The current crop of Parliament dilettantes is beyond belief….

    ….presumably, they are turkeys not wishing to vote for Xmas?….

    For those of us looking on in disgust at a once internationally renowned and proud Institution, we can only inquire as to when this sorry excuse for a Government will expire.

    In general, our Governing system has shown to be amateurish in the extreme and totally lacking in respect for those hard working tax paying citizens that put its trust in these individuals to manage the country!

    On a positive note, from either side of the debate, Brexit has opened the United Kingdom Citizens eyes to the gross incompetence of our Governing Establishment, which is clearly only fit for retirement! T. May’s lack of respect and disingenuous incompetence has been beneficial in one respect, we now know the truth of our so-called ruling class?

    I trust and hope a new modern Governing phoenix arises from this disgraceful and shambolic political butcher’s table?

    1. Fred H
      May 17, 2019

      Dennis….specifically: Can I ask Sir John to answer:

      How does an MP get elected to it?
      How does an MP get ejected from it?
      How are members elected as spokesmen/officers ?
      How long do appointments last?

      Reply Exec members are elected by all members who want to vote in the ballot They were last elected at the start of this Parliament

      1. Dennis Zoff
        May 20, 2019

        Thank you Fred/John

  27. Fed up with the bull
    May 17, 2019

    I donated to the Brexit party yesterday. Every little helps.

    1. David M
      May 18, 2019

      Well Done !

      All we need now is ALL the 17,400,000 ( OK that’s probably less than 17,250,000 by now ) to do the same ( count me IN ).

  28. David Maples
    May 17, 2019

    What it means is his lawyers/civil servants don’t completely agree with Barclay’s lawyers/civil servants. Also, there is clearly a civil war going on, made worse by the[hopefully]soon to be resignation of tearful Theresa(with all the attendant emotional blackmail that goes with it). Be assured stentorian Cox knows a white flag document when he sees one, and wants to be miles away from Lüneburg Heath when, this time around, we surrender to Frermany!

  29. BillM
    May 17, 2019

    It is “Double speak”, ambiguously worded, deliberately to avoid any blame resting upon the Attorney General should it ever come to that stage.And it seems our Government now follows the dodges provided in the lawyers 21st Century training ‘bible’ themselves.
    So much for “Open Government”.
    “Closed Shop” is more accurate a description.

  30. Chris
    May 17, 2019

    Geoffrey Cox is none too subtly covering his back. I suspect he is also almost inviting discerning MPs to push further? If they do not demand the full legal advice then that is just another indication of their weakness, lack of true resolve, and lack of concern about the fate of our country. Tory MPs, please act.

  31. Sue Doughty
    May 17, 2019

    Does the Attorney General say he agrees with the substantive points you made in your letter, or with substantive points in a letter from the Sec of State for Leaving the EU that you have not shown us?
    Anyone who has read your substantive points of objection to the WA, one of which is Article 135 keeping us paying Brussels until 2028, knows that is its killer blow. Is the Attorney General agreeing with you on your list?
    Government is in a mess. I hope that Boris takes over, sweeps away that “deal” and brings in a new one with the free trade deal on offer taken up as the basis of the deal – no MP could vote against that.

  32. Denis Cooper
    May 17, 2019

    Now the government’s talks with Labour have collapsed the CBI and other business lobby groups complain about the continued uncertainty, but the main reason we are in such a mess goes back to Theresa May’s plan to use the largely invented problem of the Irish border as a pretext to give them much of what they – and the Irish government – wanted.

  33. BR
    May 17, 2019

    “…yesterday I did also get a reply from the Attorney himself, so any criticism on that score is misfounded.”.

    Errr… no. He took an age to respond. He only did so, by a strange coincidence, the day May’s tenure began its death throes via the 1922’s rather slow-death intervention.

    Any criticism is well-founded. I wonder if he’ll have a role in any future Cabinet. I hope you will step up and get politics out of the doldrums of these wet-behind-the-ears kids out of PPE/SpAd –> MP nothings who pretend to have the experience to run a country.

    On this, the Brexit Party are way ahead of the curve. Other parties should take note – the way to kill off the failed experiment (socialism) is to be able to take the high ground against the quality of their candidates / MPs.

    Boris for PM. Only way to survive.

  34. Iago
    May 17, 2019

    Just read that for the first time all EU citizens living in the UK will be able to vote in the EU election next week. Is there any way in which this country has not been stitched up?

    1. ukretired123
      May 17, 2019

      How can this be cleanly audited independently in a timely manner as it will be open to abuse for sure like Tower Hamlets several years ago.

      1. miami.mode
        May 17, 2019

        …..and how do we ascertain if they are also voting in their home countries?

  35. ChrisS
    May 17, 2019

    Last evening I watched part 2 of “Brexit Behind Closed Doors” on the BBC iPlayer.
    If anyone hasn’t seen it, this is a fly-on-the-wall documentary of the Brexit Negotiations seen from the EU side and, in particular, that of Verhofstadt and his team.

    In Part 1 we were hardly surprised at how they ridiculed the antics of May and her Government. But it also revealed the unforgivable contempt the Europeans have for Britain.

    In part 2 we have absolute proof that Robbins and May have been as inept at negotiating as we all suspected :

    7 mins 15 secs into part 2, Barnier’s top advisor, Georg Riekeles, is seen at a meeting with Verhofstadt’s team discussing how the negotiations have gone.
    He says (and this is a verbatim copy of the English subtitles ) :

    “The point is, on citizen’s Rights, on the financial settlement and Ireland, we’re at the maximum of what we could obtain, we think we got the maximum we could get.
    A lot more, in fact than we hoped to get.

    For months and months we kept saying : ” The European Parliament will never accept this. We need more, we need more….”

    He then goes on to tell Verhofstadt’s team :

    “May’s position within her own Government is delicate.
    If she doesn’t come back, in a few hours, before the end of this week to sign this, then the most probable scenario is that we end this bloody Brexit with no deal.
    We are on a knife edge. In reality what is written there is unacceptable for them.”

    Here Riekeles is admitting that Barnier has forced May into a deal that he would regard as unacceptable if he were on the British side.

    So much for May coming back to Parliament saying that this is “the best deal possible”.
    We now know from the lips of someone at the very heart of the EU negotiating team that this certainly not the case.

    I post this in the hope that our host can use this exchange in the forthcoming debate over the fourth attempt to pass the withdrawal bill

    Surely, when we have a new, tougher Prime Minister in place these devastating revelations will be enough to go back and demand that the negotiations be reopened?

    But this can only happen if No Deal is firmly back on the table and Barnier and Co believe it will happen.

    1. Stred
      May 18, 2019

      It was recorded that Verhofstaft and co knew that the agreement had been negotiated with Robbins way before and that May’s job was to manipulate it through parliament. The contempt and ridicule along with the bad language was for her lack of ability to do what they do all the time in Brussels. Ie. Fix democracy. Robbins even asked to emigrate to Belgium, do cordial were the talks.

    2. margaret howard
      May 18, 2019

      Chris S

      “Surely, when we have a new, tougher Prime Minister in place these devastating revelations will be enough to go back and demand that the negotiations be reopened?”

      Well the likely candidate at the moment seems to be Boris. A liar, adulterer and fornicator. The world looks on in horror at just how low our country has sunk.

  36. Stred
    May 18, 2019

    It was recorded that Verhofstaft and co knew that the agreement had been negotiated with Robbins way before and that May’s job was to manipulate it through parliament. The contempt and ridicule along with the bad language was for her lack of ability to do what they do all the time in Brussels. Ie. Fix democracy. Robbins even asked to emigrate to Belgium, so cordial were the talks.

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