Royston Smith MP (Letters 28th August) says that Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement is "dead". Let's hope so. You can look up her Withdrawal Agreement & Political Declaration dated 25th November 2018 online. Her WA&PD was speedily approved by the leaders of the other 27 countries of the European Union in the European Council of the EU. You will see what a huge threat it still is, without the Northern Ireland Backstop.

Articles 164 to 166 in her Withdrawal Agreement set up a Joint Committee to interpret and apply the WA in the transition period of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU. That will include the whole relationship between the EU & UK. Clause 2 of Article 166 says that the decisions of this Joint Committee will be "binding" on the EU & UK. In other words this Joint Committee will overrule the British government.

Clause 10 of Annex VIII near the end of the WA's 599 pages says that "the proceedings of the Joint Committee will be confidential", in other words private, and not for public knowledge. So the Joint Committee's members and decisions will be secret.

The Withdrawal Agreement excludes our elected government in our Parliament from any control over the withdrawal process. Only the UK side of the Joint Committee will be left to battle for Britain, if it chooses to. Whatever deal the JC will deliver for Britain is utterly unknown to the Withdrawal Agreement. The WA merely delivers Britain to the dictatorship of this Joint Committee.

Article 168 (Exclusivity) says that all disputes on the Joint Committee between the EU & UK sides must go exclusively to the Arbitration Panel set up in Articles 167 to 181. But clause 1 of Article 174 says that when a dispute submitted to arbitration raises a question of EU law, then the Court of Justice of the EU will make a decision binding on the Arbitration Panel. That is because the CJEU is the supreme interpreter of Union law, not the Panel.

As the Withdrawal Agreement is a legal document all disputes arising from it can be interpreted as legal disputes subject to the rule of the CJEU. You can be sure that the CJEU will agree with that. Clause 1 of Article 174 makes the rest of the Articles 167 to 181 in Title lll (Dispute Management) utterly redundant.

Article 132 in the original 14th November draft Withdrawal Agreement allowed the Joint Committee to extend the transition period to "31 December 20XX". So the transition period could be extended to 31st December 2099. That "20XX" clause is not there in the 25th November version of the Withdrawal Agreement, approved by the European Council.

But what if the EU side of the Joint Committee proposes anyway to extend the transition period to 31st December 2099, and the UK side of the JC disputes that? The Court of Justice of the EU will decide who wins that dispute. You can guess which side the CJEU will favour.

Let's hope that Royston Smith is right when he says that Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement is dead. It should be buried ten feet down with a stake through its heart, to make sure.

Ralph Prothero