May warned of ‘constitutional crisis’ over Brexit legal advice

#Brexit special section In the media

Theresa May is defying intense pressure from all sides and refusing to publish the full legal advice on her Brexit withdrawal deal.

The Prime Minister has been warned by Labour that she could spark a constitutional crisis if she only publishes an abridged version later today.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is due to make a statement later that is expected to confirm Mrs May’s decision to ignore pleas from MPs of all parties to publish in full.

She insists that the advice is confidential but opponents claim the Government does not want it known that the deal could tie the UK to EU customs rules indefinitely.

MPs say publishing an abridged version goes against a vote in the Commons last month calling for the Government to place the full advice before Parliament.

Tory MP Sam Gyimah, who resigned as a minister last week, said issuing the advice in full was essential to restore public trust in politics.

Labour is threatening to unite with other parties to begin proceedings for contempt of Parliament if the government does not perform a U-turn.

Their shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer told Sky News: “If they don’t produce the advice this will be a collision course between the government and Parliament.”

His Labour colleague Barry Gardiner told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that Mrs May risked a ‘serious constitutional crisis’ if she refused.

Former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer told BBC Radio 4’s Today that the public have a right to know the full nature of the legal advice.

Sammy Wilson of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which keeps the government in power, said MPs must know what they are voting for.

He added that it was important for his party to fully understand what the implications of the deal were for Northern Ireland.

But Tory peer and former solicitor general Lord Garnier told the Today programme it was an accepted convention that the advice should not be published in full.

Cox’s statement today is a prelude to five days of discussions in Parliament on Mrs May’s Brexit deal, culminating in a vote on December 11.

The Prime Minister is facing a resounding defeat on her Brexit plans, but Home Secretary Sajid Javid has squashed rumours that the vote could be delayed.

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