Government spent more than £45,000 printing Brexit deal Theresa May now wants to change

Posted On: 
5th February 2019

Ministers blew more than £45,000 printing hard copies of Theresa May's Brexit deal - which she now wants to re-negotiate.

Details of the hard copy costs were revealed through a Freedom of Information request.
Credit: 
PA

Freedom of Information requests lodged by the BBC reveal that 1,300 copies of the near-600 page EU Withdrawal Agreement were printed to send to MPs and peers ahead of the deal's 230-vote defeat in a House of Commons vote last month.

According to the new figures, provided to the broadcaster by the Department for Exiting the European Union, the Government spent £45,637 getting paper copies of the deal produced.

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But Mrs May last week vowed to reopen the legally-binding agreement in order to make major changes Irish backstop, in a bid to win the support of Tory Brexiteers and the DUP.

A spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the European Union said: "The decision to print a number of hard copies of the Withdrawal Agreement was made in consultation with the parliamentary authorities as they are best placed to advise on the likely requirements of both Houses.

"This was particularly true in this instance given the significance of the withdrawal agreement and the need for parliamentarians to properly scrutinise it.

"The costs highlighted in the FOI response also include the secure delivery and handling of the document."

The broadcaster reports that some copies of the agreement are still lying uncollected in the Parliamentary Vote Office.

Brexiteer Conservative MP Mark Francois - a member of the European Research Group of backbench Tories, said he hoped MPs had actually "taken the time to read" the weighty documentW

"In particular as the Whips' Office have been such enthusiastic proponents, I would be intrigued to know how many of the whips have read all 585 pages before trying to persuade us how good of a thing it is," he told the BBC.

'BROAD SUPPORT'

The figures were revealed as the Prime Minister prepared to head to Northern Ireland in a fresh bid to convince the country's politicians that she can strike a Brexit deal that commands "broad support".

In a speech later, Mrs May will say: "I know this is a concerning time for many people here in Northern Ireland.

"But we will find a way to deliver Brexit that honours our commitments to Northern Ireland that commands broad support across the community in Northern Ireland and that secures a majority in the Westminster parliament, which is the best way to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland."

In a sign of the pressure Mrs May is under to secure changes to the backstop - which would keep the UK in a customs union with the EU if no other way to avoid a hard border can be found - DUP leader Arlene Foster warned said the plan would drive a "coach and horses" through the historic Good Friday peace agreement.

She said: "Parliament has spoken. A majority has rejected the current backstop.

"The European Union must now accept the need for the Withdrawal Agreement to be reopened. The toxic backstop must be dealt with."