DUP threatens to bring down Theresa May's government over Brexit deal

04 December, 2018, 00:51 | Author: Conrad Doyle
  • Leading Brexiter Liam Fox urges support for May’s deal | Financial Times

An Irish border backstop installed in the case of a no-deal Brexit would continue to apply "unless and until it is superseded" by a new agreement, Government legal advice says. Opposition parties suspect it will only offer a summary of that advice.

"We would now ask that you consider giving the House of Commons the opportunity to debate and consider this matter of contempt at the earliest opportunity", it added.

The government argues Cox's briefing will be sufficient, but Starmer said "if they don't produce it tomorrow then we will start contempt proceedings, and this will be a collision course between the government and Parliament".

Reports today say Starmer is prepared to sign a joint letter with the DUP's Westminster leader, Nigel Dodds, the Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake, and the SNP Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins, which will call for Bercow to allow a motion of contempt.

Any punishment suggested would need to be approved by the Commons before being enforced.

The pressure was deepened today after the Sunday Times published details of the advice given to Cabinet, which included a passage saying the United Kingdom could end up being locked in a "backstop" arrangement with the European Union over the border with Ireland.

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If Parliament rejects the Brexit deal, what can PM May do?

It follows 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.

However, ministers have since sparked anger saying they would release a "full, reasoned position statement" based on the advice instead of the advice in full.

"I am caught in an acute clash of constitutional principle", he said. "I say it wouldn't".

The government has also made it clear that Britain will leave the European Union on March 29, 2019 regardless of the votes in Parliament, saying there would be no chance for a renegotiation of the Brexit agreement.

The likelihood of rejection could increase Monday if Labour is successful in forcing May to reveal the full legal advice she sought before agreeing the deal with European leaders last month.

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May faces an uphill struggle to secure parliament's approval in a vote on December 11, when many Brexit supporters and opponents alike say they will reject her vision for leaving the EU, Britain's biggest shift in foreign policy in over 40 years.

"Levelling with the public and parliament on Brexit is key to restoring trust in politics, healing divisions and unifying the country behind any preferred outcome", he said on Twitter.

The Sunday Times said in a letter sent last month to Cabinet ministers, he advised the only way out of the backstop - created to prevent the return of a hard border with the Republic - once it was invoked was to sign a new trade deal, a process which could take years.

"The refusal of the Government to comply sends a very clear message about the Brexit deal - that it is bad for Britain, satisfies nobody and will weaken our economy and our voice in the world".

He told the BBC's Marr show that the deal was not "perfect" but if it not was supported in the Commons there was a risk of "no Brexit at all".

Theresa May will be exposed as a "liar" if the government releases its full legal advice on the Brexit withdrawal deal, DUP MP Sammy Wilson has declared. "I think the advice is clear; we are in the backstop indefinitely until we agree with the European Union the future relationship which means they have a veto", commented Dominic Raab, the second Secretary of State for Brexit to resign from Theresa May's government, believing the former Remain campaigner's deal does not really make Britain independent of the EU.

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