May under pressure from all sides over Brexit legal advice

Evarado Alatorre
Noviembre 8, 2018

Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, has led calls in Government for full legal advice on plans for a customs backstop to be shared with ministers so they can make an informed decision about the Prime Minister's Brexit deal.

Theresa May has let her Cabinet take a peek at the draft Brexit withdrawal deal, but she hasn't revealed her plan to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.

Sir Geoffrey Donaldson, the DUP's chief whip, said: "If the House of Commons is going to have a meaningful vote on a deal that includes, and upon which this legal advice is very, very important, then I think people are entitled to know what that advice is".

The concerns focus on Attorney General Geoffrey Cox's advice on how an exit from the backstop could be found to make sure the United Kingdom is not permanently kept within a customs union, which would severely curtail its ability to strike global free trade deals - a key prize for Brexiteers.

A Downing Street source said: 'That is just where we are so far. PM May has said that 95% of the deal is done, but Ireland is by far the biggest problem, and it would seem that there are still tensions over the withdrawal agreement between the European Union and United Kingdom, over what's known as the "level playing field".

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However, the development will do little to dampen speculation among ministers and MPs alike that an agreement is close to being signed off.

Mrs May's plan would see the whole United Kingdom effectively agree to remain in the customs union to help avoid a hard border with Ireland as a "backstop" if no other arrangement can be found.

Mrs May's plan would see the whole United Kingdom effectively agree to remain in the customs union as a "backstop" if no other arrangement can be found.

Mrs May updated European Council president Donald Tusk on the situation on Wednesday morning.

No extra meeting has been scheduled ahead of the regular weekly gathering next Tuesday.

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