Gulf News

May ac­cused of mislead­ing MPs over Brexit deal

Govern­ment fi­nally pub­lishes six-page ad­vice from at­tor­neygen­eral to cab­i­net

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I be­lieve that the deal we have ne­go­ti­ated is a good deal. I recog­nise that con­cerns have been raised, par­tic­u­larly around the back­stop, ... I am con­tin­u­ing to lis­ten to col­leagues on that and con­sid­er­ing the way for­ward.” Theresa May | Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May was ac­cused yes­ter­day of mislead­ing MPs over her Brexit deal as her govern­ment pub­lished le­gal ad­vice likely to in­crease op­po­si­tion to the agree­ment ahead of a cru­cial vote next week.

Scot­tish Na­tional Party (SNP) law­maker Ian Black­ford was twice rep­ri­manded by the House of Com­mons speaker for sug­gest­ing May had mis­led MPs “in­ad­ver­tently or oth­er­wise”, be­fore with­draw­ing the claim.

May replied that she had al­ways been clear about the im­pli­ca­tions of the deal’s pro­vi­sions on North­ern Ire­land, which risk keep­ing Bri­tain tied to the EU’s eco­nomic rules for years af­ter leav­ing next March.

But she em­pha­sised nei­ther side wanted this to hap­pen, and re­peated that the with­drawal agree­ment struck with Brus­sels last month was the only vi­able op­tion.

“I be­lieve that the deal we have ne­go­ti­ated is a good deal,” she said, adding: “I’m con­tin­u­ing to lis­ten to col­leagues on that and con­sid­er­ing a way for­ward.”

Se­ries of de­feats

May on Tues­day suf­fered a se­ries of stun­ning de­feats in par­lia­ment, which threaten her govern­ment and ul­ti­mately could change the course of Brexit. She ef­fec­tively lost her ma­jor­ity in the Com­mons af­ter the North­ern Ir­ish party on which she re­lies sided with the Labour party to find her min­is­ters in con­tempt of par­lia­ment for fail­ing to pub­lish in full the le­gal ad­vice on the Brexit deal.

Mean­while, 25 of her own Con­ser­va­tive MPs voted with Labour to give the Com­mons a big­ger say in what hap­pens if, as ex­pected, the Brexit deal is voted down on De­cem­ber 11.

The govern­ment yes­ter­day fi­nally pub­lished the six-page ad­vice from the at­tor­ney gen­eral to cab­i­net, which warns of the “le­gal risk” in­her­ent in a clause in­tended to keep open the bor­der with Ire­land.

It con­firms Bri­tain risks re­main­ing “in­def­i­nitely” in the so-called back­stop, which could keep the whole coun­try in an EU cus­toms union for years af­ter Brexit, while also keep­ing the prov­ince of North­ern Ire­land in the bloc’s sin­gle mar­ket. MPs on Tues­day also voted to ap­prove an amend­ment that al­lows par­lia­ment to de­ter­mine what hap­pens if the deal falls.

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