'Stalemate': UK government's secret legal advice reveals Brexit fears

Legal advice confirms backstop will keep the UK in the customs union- but what is a customs union

Theresa May and Jean Claude Juncker. Image Getty

Parliament's vote on British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal will go ahead on December 11, her office said on Thursday, despite a newspaper report ministers had sought a delay to prevent a defeat so big that it might bring down the government.

May's critics, including both supporters and opponents of Brexit, say that means Britain could be subject to European Union laws long after it has given up any influence over determining them.

Mr Brady's comments came as Theresa May has made a last-ditch attempt to rally MPs behind her Brexit deal after suffering the historic humiliation of seeing her government found in contempt of Parliament.

The legal advice document prepared by United Kingdom attorney-general Geoffrey Cox, at the heart of the rare contempt motion against the government in Parliament earlier this week, warns the terms of the Irish backstop could trap the United Kingdom in "protracted and repeated rounds of negotiations" with the European Union in the years ahead.

The Newbury MP voted in favour of an amendment which will hand power to MPs if Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement is rejected.

"If we get to the point where it might be needed, we have a choice as to what we do, so we don't even have to go into the backstop at that point".

She suggested MPs could be "given a role" in deciding whether to activate the backstop, which is created to stop the return of a physical border.

The Times newspaper reported that senior ministers were urging May to delay the vote for fear of a rout and several lawmakers said they suspected the government may try something to postpone what would be a game-changing defeat.

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Mr Javid warned that "no matter how effectively" the government prepares for a no-deal Brexit, there would be "consequences" for the UK's security. Only this morning, Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons, told the Radio 4 Today programme that it was a "very important breach" of centuries of convention of legal privilege to publish legal advice in this way.

"(It) would mean an immediate and probably indefinite loss of some security capability which, despite our best efforts, would likely cause some operational disruption when we leave", he said.

The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the UK's future is at stake in the Brexit vote on Thursday.

Theresa May's Brexit deal will face fresh scrutiny when the Cabinet's full legal advice is published, following one of the most punishing days in the Commons for a sitting Government in recent memory.

"In the implementation period, we still have to negotiate the terms, but there will be concerns about the fact that they would require, I'm sure they would require, some more money to be paid, for example".

It comes after Mrs May delivered her opening address on Tuesday, a week before MPs are set vote on whether to pass her deal on December 11.

She said: "I am talking to colleagues about how we can look at parliament having a role in going into that and coming out of that".

She said it would not be in the "national interest" to block the Withdrawal Agreement, adding: "The only certainty would be uncertainty".

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