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Britain could end up trapped in Brexit backstop ‘indefinitely’, attorney-general warns

Britain could end up trapped in Brexit backstop ‘indefinitely’, attorney-general warns

Liz Bates

2 min read

Britain could end up trapped in a customs union with the EU ‘indefinitely’, according to leaked legal advice handed to Theresa May by the attorney general.

The documents, which have been seen by the Cabinet, have been withheld from MPs despite parliament demanding their publication in full.

In a letter, obtained by the Sunday Times, Geoffrey Cox said of the controversial Brexit ‘backstop’: “The protocol would endure indefinitely.” 

The attorney-general stated that the arrangement would only end if Britain signed a new trade deal, but warned that it could take years and talks could collapse, leaving Britain trapped.

Last week Mrs May defended the Government’s decision not publish the advice in full, telling the Commons: “Of course there’s a legitimate desire in Parliament to understand the legal implications of the deal.

“We have said and we have been clear that we will make available to members a full reasoned position statement laying out the Government’s legal position on the withdrawal agreement...

“But as regards publication of the full legal advice, the advice any client receives from their lawyers is privileged. That’s the same for government as it is for any member of the public.”

But opposition parties will now attempt to force the Government into revealing the details, with Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and the DUP teaming up to the petition the Commons Speaker over the issue.

The parties will send a letter to John Bercow calling on him to intervene.

Speaking in the House last week, Mr Bercow said he was “deeply concerned” that ministers had so far refused to comply with Parliament.

But one Cabinet criticsed the Speaker's role, telling the Telegraph Mr Bercow would “try to thwart Brexit in any way that he can”.

Mr Cox will give a statement to the Commons tomorrow outlining the legal position. 


Meanwhile, in an interview with the Sunday Times, Theresa may has declared there is only “nine days” to save Brexit.

She told the newspaper: “Over the next nine days I am not going to be giving Christmas much thought at all. I am going to be focusing on this deal.”

She added: “What I fear is that there are those in parliament who are trying to frustrate Brexit, who are trying to not deliver on what British people voted for.

“We can seize the opportunity, we can deliver Brexit, we can get that brighter future for our country, we can have certainty for the way ahead — or, if the vote doesn’t go through, then it will be more uncertainty and more division.”

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