Theresa May rejects accusation of hiding Brexit facts as full legal advice published

EU ‘ready for no-deal Brexit’ if UK sinks deal
Irish backstop for UK’s withdrawal deal could last ‘indefinitely’, legal advice states
Report also warns of Britain becoming stuck in “protracted and repeating rounds” of negotiations
Theresa May said she is listening to concerns on Brexit backstop to find way forward
DUP says UK government’s Brexit legal advice is devastating

Britain could be kept “indefinitely” in a customs union with the European Union if UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal is backed, according to details of the government’s full legal advice on the deal published on Wednesday.

The advice said that Britain risks becoming stuck in “protracted and repeating rounds” of negotiations to leave the European Union if it enters a so-called backstop arrangement.

“Despite statements in the Protocol that it is not intended to be permanent and the clear intention of the parties that it should be replaced by alternative, permanent arrangements, in international law the Protocol would endure indefinitely until a superseding agreement took its place,” the advice said.

The Protocol refers to the so-called Irish backstop agreement in May’s withdrawal deal she has agreed with the EU to prevent the return of border controls between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The government was forced to publish its legal advice on its Brexit deal by parliament on Tuesday after being found in contempt for refusing to do so.

Many opposition parties members say they want to see the advice to better inform themselves before voting on Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal with the EU on December 11.

Following the report being published, Theresa May said she has not concealed the facts on the Brexit deal from parliament.

May was tackled by the leader of the Scottish National Party at Westminster, Ian Blackford, to explain why Northern Ireland would have a deal to remain in the EU’s single market under the so-called backstop and Scotland would not.

“We have not concealed the facts on the Brexit deal from members of this house,” she told parliament.

Read more: Explainer: What happened on day one of the Brexit debate – and what happens next?

The advice on how to exit the backstop agreement to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland is under scrutiny, particularly by May’s nominal allies in Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

“I believe that the deal we have negotiated is a good deal. I recognise that concerns have been raised, particularly around the backstop and that is an issue, … I am continuing to listen to colleagues on that and considering the way forward,” Mrs May told parliament.

British interior minister Sajid Javid said the government was listening and continuing to explore ways to make the so-called backstop arrangement in the Brexit deal more acceptable to the DUP.

The DUP has shown its deep anger over the backstop arrangement to prevent the return of a hard border between the British province and EU member Ireland, arguing that it would essentially split the province from the rest of the mainland.

“I think again .. it’s right that we look and continue to explore whether there are other arrangements as well that can lead to more permanent and more easily acceptable outcome,” he told parliament.

Meanwhile, the European Union is continuing with contingency planning in order to manage Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc in the event the British parliament next week rejects a Brexit deal, a senior EU official said on Wednesday.

“We need to see what’s the outcome of discussion in UK parliament,” European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters. “We are preparing for the deal. We have agreed on the deal with the government. We are making sure that it can be implemented — and in parallel we have done some contingency planning also.”

The deputy leader of the DUP described the government’s full legal advice on Brexit as devastating.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) are unhappy with the EU divorce deal’s so-called backstop provision which will align Northern Ireland more closely with the European Union than the rest of the United Kingdom if no other way can be found to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

“Devastating,” Nigel Dodds said on Twitter after the advice was published. “The legal advice just published proves NI (Northern Ireland) would be in full EU Customs Union while GB (Great Britain) is not.”

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42