Presenting legal advice, May fans flames of Brexit rebellion

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government fought on Monday to defend its Brexit deal by outlining the legal basis for parliament to support its plan to leave the European Union, but instead seemed to fan the flames of rebellion.

A stall sells Union flags in Westminster, London, Britain, November 13, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

May faces an uphill struggle to secure parliament’s approval in a vote on Dec. 11, when many Brexit supporters and opponents alike say they will reject her vision for leaving the EU, Britain’s biggest shift in foreign policy in over 40 years.

She has toured the country and television studios to try to sell her deal, but a move to present her government’s legal advice to parliament seemed to backfire on Monday.

After a complaint presented by a group of cross-party lawmakers, parliamentary speaker John Bercow said he believed it could be argued that a contempt had been committed because of the failure to release the full legal advice.

The issue would be taken up again in parliament on Tuesday, Bercow said.

It was a threat that one government source shrugged off as just a “process row”.

At a rowdy session of parliament, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox outlined the legal advice he had given to the government, including over a “backstop” arrangement to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU member state Ireland if a future UK-EU trading deal is not reached in time.

“This deal … is the best way I firmly believe of ensuring that we leave the European Union on March 29,” Cox told parliament. “This is the deal that will ensure that happening in an orderly way with legal certainty.”

But his words did little to soothe some of the deal’s most caustic critics,

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