By Ben Kerrigan Theresa May is under immense pressure to cave in and release full details of the legal advice given to her about Brexit.
The British Parliament is undergoing an internal war over unseen legal advice provided about Brexit.The level of discontent being experienced in parliament poses the risk of throwing tense Brexit talks into disarray. The potential for a distasteful collaboration between the DUP and Labour to demand the release of the full legal advice on Theresa May’s Brexit deal is increasing.
The Prime Minister is resisting huge pressure to disclose the private opinion Attorney General Geoffrey Cox gave on the package she has thrashed out with Brussels.
Eminent QC , Attorney General Geoffrey Cox was a key figure in forcing the deal through the Cabinet – but there are claims his formal written advice was far bleaker and he warned the UK would be stuck ‘indefinitely’ in the Irish border backstop. A Commons motion passed demanding the full legal document has achieved little so far, with ministers proposing to only release a summary as the full material would break convention and undermine the operation of government.
Pressure for the British government to give in to the growing demands for the full release of the legal advice is mounting. There is a lot of speculation that when Mr Cox makes a statement to the Commons this evening, Speaker John Bercow could launch contempt proceedings – triggering a formal investigation in the PM or her most senior colleagues.
.Meanwhile, Theresa May’s Brexit adviser, Olly Robbins told the Commons there was no agreement between the UK and EU that includes a guarantee of “frictionless trade”, he said: “The government has put forward its proposals on how to achieve frictionless trade with the EU vociferously, especially since the White Paper in July.
“Some of those proposals have gained traction – others are still challenging and difficult.
Mr Robbins said the political declaration on the future UK-EU relationship “makes clear it is the ambition of both sides to achieve as frictionless a relationship as possible” and insisted that “frictionless trade is not ruled out” under the terms of declaration.
But he added: “I don’t think minsters, least of all the prime minister, are hiding from the fact that we’ve still got a job to do to convince people of the detail of every bit of that.”
As tensions rise, the DUP has said it ready to sign a joint letter with Labour complaining that ministers are in contempt of parliament – after a Commons motion called for the details to be issued.
The party’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said: ‘If the Government attempt to ignore the will of the House of Commons and refuse to publish the full legal advice on the Irish backstop, the DUP will work with colleagues from right across the House to ensure they start to listen.’ Behind the scenes, there are several political strategies taking place to not only compel the British Government to release full details of the legal advice to Britain, but also to push for a second referendum vote-something that would be a complete U turn on the talks and processes of the past two years-potentially making none sense of all of it.
A binding Commons vote last month requiring the Government to lay before Parliament ‘any legal advice in full’ – including that given by the Attorney General – relating to the Withdrawal Agreement. The latest row erupted row erupted as it was reported Mr Cox warned the UK could be tied to the EU customs union ‘indefinitely’ through the Northern Ireland ‘backstop’.