Nigel Dodds among 'star chamber' of lawyers who will scrutinise Brexit compromise

DUP Leader Arlene Foster with Nigel Dodds who will be among a group of eight lawyers appointed to scrutinise the Brexit compromise.

The DUP's Nigel Dodds, is among a 'star chamber' of Brexiter lawyers who will scrutinise Theresa May's amended withdrawal agreement, with growing optimism that a breakthrough on the backstop is now possible.

Mrs May was given a Brexit boost over the weekend as key Tories, signalled swinging behind her agreement in exchange for movement on the so called 'Northern Ireland backstop'.

Chairman of the highly influential 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady expressed optimism that a breakthrough was now possible.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Sir Graham said: "The whole country is tired of vacillation and delay.

"When the right compromise is offered, we should pull together behind the Prime Minister and help her to deliver our exit from the European Union on March 29."

"My conversations with senior diplomats and politicians from across Europe have given me cause for optimism that a breakthrough is near", he said.

The hardline European Research Group (ERG) of Tory MPs led by Jacob Rees-Mogg also indicated a more conciliatory tone on the issue.

Last week the DUP's Sammy Wilson, who would be closely aligned to the ERG at Westminster, indicated that his party would be willing to accept a time-limited backstop.

In private talks with Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, the ERG are thought to have called for a legally-binding mechanism to escape the backstop, with a clear exit route and an unambiguous rewrite of the language in the government's legal advice.

The hard line pro leave group have been working with the DUP on the new softer stance on the backstop, aimed at avoiding a 'no deal' Brexit.

The team of Brexiter lawyers who will scrutinise and pass judgment on the compromise will be chaired by Sir Bill Cash and include Nigel Dodds, former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and Martin Howe QC, chair of Lawyers for Britain.

While this could take place within the March 29 deadline, EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has suggested a "technical extension" of up to two months still may be needed.

Mr Barnier has also stated that Brussels is ready to give the UK further "guarantees, assurances and clarifications" that the Irish backstop should only be temporary.

If the compromise deal is still rejected, MPs will be able to vote on whether the UK can leave the EU in a no-deal scenario, and if that is rejected, the Commons can decide on whether to extend Article 50 and delay Brexit.

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