May fans flames of Brexit rebellion with legal advice

Saul Bowman
December 5, 2018

Attorney General Cox sparked anger on Monday when he published only a position statement, rather than the "full legal advice" insisted on by the Commons last month.

At a rowdy session of Parliament, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox outlined the legal advice he had given to the government, including over a "backstop" arrangement to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and European Union member state Ireland if a future U.K. -EU trading deal is not reached in time.

"The motion makes clear the government must now publish the attorney general's final legal advice in full", Starmer said.

In an address to parliament on Monday, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox claimed publishing the full extent of legal advice he provided the government over the deal would be "contrary to the public interest".

Minutes earlier, the Government's attempt to have the contempt motion kicked into the long grass by referring it to the Committee of Privileges had been defeated by 311 votes to 307, majority four.

A judge in the European Union ruled on Tuesday before this vote took place that the United Kingdom could cancel its Brexit plans without getting the approval of all the remaining EU member states.

Dominic Grieve, which passed tonight, allows a coalition of opposition and Tory dissident MPs to instruct the government on policy on Brexit if the government comes back a second time to the Commons after a first time defeat next week. "Over 100 Conservative MPs have said they are not going to back the deal, the Labour Party have said they are not going to back the deal".

Speaking in the Commons after the vote, Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom said: "We've tested the opinion of the House twice on this very serious subject".


If May's Brexit plan is voted down, the government would have to come back to Parliament with an alternative plan within 21 days and it could then be changed by MPs - a growing number of whom favour a Norway-style relationship which would include Single Market membership.

Advocate General Campos Sanchez-Bordona stated that Britain could halt the entire process without the agreement of other European Union countries.

He said: "What I'm looking for particularly is what the legal advice says about our ability to strike any new trade deal".

This is likely to delay the start of the debate on Theresa May's Brexit deal.

However, Conservative whips may hope by opening up the prospect that parliament could push the government towards a softer Brexit, the amendment may convince a few Brexiters to throw their weight reluctantly behind May's deal.

The proceedings come ahead of five days of debate over May's Brexit deal, before a vote on whether to approve it on December 11. Lawmakers from both parties have criticized the deal, and some from both are even suggesting that Brexit shouldn't occur at all.

They may try to alter or delay Brexit, or derail it altogether, but her team is sticking to the script.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a constitutional crisis before her government debates the Brexit withdrawal agreement that was approved in November.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER