Boris Johnson piles pressure on Theresa May as he joins calls for government to reveal Brexit legal advice

Posted On: 
3rd December 2018

Boris Johnson has thrown his weight behind calls for the Government's legal advice on Brexit to be published in full as he attacked “outrageous” plans to keep most of it under wraps.

Boris Johnson has piled further pressure on the Government
Credit: 
PA Images

The ex-Cabinet minister joined forces with opposition parties as he said it was “wrong” and “absurd” for Theresa May to be holding back the documents.

Parliament has demanded the Government publish all of the advice presented to the Cabinet by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox last month.

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But ministers are only expected to present a summary of the document to MPs later today - sparking a furious row.

Mr Johnson used his latest Telegraph column to demand publication of the full advice before MPs get to vote on the Brexit deal on 11 December.

In particular, the former Foreign Secretary said MPs must be able to read what Mr Cox told his colleagues about the so-called "backstop" plan to avoid a hard Irish border, amid reports that he has warned the UK could be trapped in it "indefenitely".

He also noted that Mrs May demanded to see the legal advice over the 2003 Iraq war and said: “How much more wrong and absurd is her position now, when you consider that this legal question is more important even than the Iraq war."

“It is outrageous that the public should be prevented from knowing the full legal implications of this appalling deal – when it is their rights, their freedoms, their hard-won suffrage, that are about to be bartered away,” he added.

“It is the people who pay the Attorney General’s wages. It is the sovereign people of this country who are the client. And they deserve to know exactly how this country risks being turned into a client state.”

Mr Johnson, who led the Vote Leave campaign to quit the EU, branded the Northern Irish backstop plan a “great steel trap that is about to clamp its jaws around our hind limbs and prevent our escape”.

Meanwhile, former Cabinet minister Stephen Crabb told the BBC the Government would be better off “just to get out and publish the full text”.

Labour has said failure to publish the legal advice could spark a constitutional crisis, and has vowed to table a motion of contempt in the Government if it refuses to play ball.

Commons Speaker John Bercow has also warned ministers they could be held in contempt if they do not publish the legal advice in full.