Latest: The Prime Minister said the EU would not want Britain to be in a backstop for
Latest: The Prime Minister said the EU would not want Britain to be in a backstop for “longer than is necessary”.
She told MPs: “I recognise there are concerns about the backstop but it is indeed the case that it is not attractive for the European Union to have the United Kingdom in the backstop for a number of reasons.
“First of all because in that backstop we will be making no financial obligation to the European Union; we will not be accepting free movement; and there will be very light-touch level playing field requirements.
“These are matters which mean that the European Union does not see this as an attractive place for them to put the UK: they think that’s an attractive place for the UK to be in and they won’t want us to be in it for longer than is necessary.”
Mrs May said the Government would not revoke Article 50, after she was asked about the legal opinion of the ECJ’s advocate-general Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona during PMQs.
She said: “If his determination does go ahead, what it says is that it is possible for a country unilaterally to revoke Article 50, but that isn’t about extending Article 50 – it’s about making sure that we don’t leave the European Union…
“We will not revoke Article 50: the British people voted to leave the European Union and we will be leaving.”
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said: “It is clear from the Attorney General’s advice on the legal effect of the protocol on Northern Ireland to the Prime Minister and her Cabinet colleagues that we were right to advocate its full publication and we have been vindicated in our opposition to the backstop arrangements contained within the Withdrawal Agreement.
“This advice concisely sets out the stark reality of the operation of the backstop. Its publication demonstrates how the Prime Minister has failed to abide by the commitments she gave in that the United Kingdom as a whole would leave the European Union and that she would ensure there would be no customs or regulatory divergence within the United Kingdom.
“This backstop is totally unacceptable to unionists throughout the United Kingdom and it must be defeated and arrangements renegotiated that uphold the commitments which the Prime Minister and her Government has made in the House of Commons.”
Mrs May also faced accusations from the DUP that the backstop had been based on a “false assertion” and asked why she had allowed the EU to use it as a “negotiating ploy”.
The Prime Minister said it was not a negotiating ploy, explaining: “What it is is our commitment as a UK Government to the people of Northern Ireland.”
She added: “People need to know it is beyond a political assertion that there is that commitment there to the people of Northern Ireland to ensure that we have no hard border.”
Brexit legal advice reveals ‘central weaknesses in the government’s deal’ says Starmer
Latest: Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s full legal advice to the Cabinet on Brexit reveals “central weaknesses in the Government’s deal”, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer has said.
Mr Starmer said he had seen the full document, which is due to be released on Wednesday following Tuesday’s parliamentary vote which found the Government in contempt of Parliament.
Writing on Twitter, Mr Starmer said: “Having reviewed the Attorney General’s legal advice, it’s obvious why this needed to be placed in the public domain.
“All week we have heard from Government ministers that releasing this information could harm the national interest. Nothing of the sort. All this advice reveals is the central weaknesses in the Government’s deal.
“It is unthinkable that the Government tried to keep this information from Parliament – and indeed the public – before next week’s vote.”
Having reviewed the Attorney General’s legal advice, it’s obvious why this needed to be placed in the public domain. 1/3
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) December 5, 2018
Green MP Caroline Lucas tweeted sections of the legal advice, which she said suggested it was not received by the Cabinet until November 13 – the day MPs first voted for it to be released.
Ms Lucas highlighted concerns in the document that the protocol setting out the backstop arrangements for Ireland would “endure indefinitely”.
There seem to me to be three key paragraphs in the Attorney General's legal advice to the Prime Minister on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland – the 'backstop – in the Withdrawal Agreement.
Here they are. 1/4
Para 16: The Protocol will "endure indefinitely". pic.twitter.com/UX7ZfClGob
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) December 5, 2018
According to the extracts, she said, a review mechanism in the Brexit deal “does not provide a unilateral route out of the backstop” and there is “a legal risk that UK could become stuck in protracted and repeating rounds of negotiations”.
The legal advice was posted on Twitter by several MPs, including Ms Lucas and Mr Starmer, ahead of publication.
In its conclusion, it says: “In the absence of a right of termination, there is a legal risk that the United Kingdom might become subject to protracted and repeating rounds of negotiations.
“This risk must be weighed against the political and economic imperative on both sides to reach an agreement that constitutes a politically stable and permanent basis for their future relationship.
“This is a political decision for the Government.”
And the *really* weird thing is that the date on the Attorney General's advice suggests that the Cabinet did not get any formal legal advice from him before 13 November – the day MPs first asked for it to be published … 🤔 4/4 #Brexit #Art50 pic.twitter.com/88ZY8Dju31
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) December 5, 2018
Another section says that as currently written, the backstop “does not provide for a mechanism that is likely to enable the UK lawfully to exit the UK-wide customs union without a subsequent agreement”.
It adds: “This remains the case even if the parties are still negotiating many years later, and even if the parties believe that talks have clearly broken down and there is no prospect of a future relationship agreement.
“The resolution of such a stalemate would have to be political.”
British government to release full Brexit deal legal advice after brutal day in Commons
Update: Theresa May’s Brexit deal will face fresh scrutiny when the Cabinet’s full legal advice is published, following one of the most punishing days in the Commons for a sitting UK government in recent memory.
Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said the advice on the Withdrawal Agreement from Attorney General Geoffrey Cox would be published on Wednesday morning, after MPs on Tuesday found the government to be in contempt of parliament for the first time in modern history.
Wednesday is the second of five days of debates on the deal before the December 11 vote, and follows a first day which saw a series of dramatic defeats for the British Prime Minister’s struggling administration.
As well as losing the contempt vote, the government was also forced to allow MPs to have a say in what happens next if the Brexit deal is voted down on Tuesday.
Mrs Leadsom told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the government would release the legal advice, but “not without some regret”.