Government publish Brexit legal advice they didn't want you to see

Stefan Rousseau- PA Images via Getty Images

Prime Minister Theresa May leaving 10 Downing Street, London for the the House of Commons ahead of a five-day debate on her draft Brexit bill.

Supporters of a clean break with the European Union say the backstop, meant to ensure no hard border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland, could leave Britain forced to accept European Union regulations indefinitely, or Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the United Kingdom.

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

She confirmed she was in discussions with MPs opposed to the deal about giving parliament a say in whether the United Kingdom entered backstop arrangements or extended the transition period.

Mrs May is reportedly dead set on delivering the result of the 2016 referendum and "loses her temper and raises her voice" when the prospect of a re-run of the vote is raised.

If the deal is voted down, some members of parliament from both main parties have said they would act to stop a Brexit with no agreement, which business chiefs and investors fear would weaken the West, spook financial markets and block trade.

Cox warns that the backstop arrangement contained within the withdrawal agreement would "endure indefinitely", a phrase which has enraged Brexiteers who say it would represent an incomplete Brexit. The House of Commons leader, Andrea Leadsom, also told Parliament the vote would go ahead on December 11.

The six-page document by Geoffrey Cox, the UK Attorney General, was released to MPs a day after the House of Commons found the Conservative Government in contempt of Parliament for trying to keep it secret.

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It then opens up the field to a no-deal chaotic Brexit without any exit arrangements in place, a scenario which also has few takers in the UK Parliament and is expected to further dent May's already tenuous hold on leadership.

Led by Hugo Swire, the alternative plan would give MPs the chance to vote to extend the transition period at the end of 2022 - rather than falling into the backstop.

"There are questions about how decisions are taken as to whether we go into the backstop, because that isn't an automatic", May said.

Powerful Tory backbencher Sir Graham Brady hinted he and other MPs may need "reassurance" over ending the Northern Irish backstop before they can back Theresa May's Brexit deal.

One possibility is that she will have to go back to Brussels to try and secure a more palatable proposition, something the European Union has repeatedly dismissed as unlikely.

Another fellow Cabinet minister, worldwide trade secretary Liam Fox, also backed the deal, warning there was a "natural "Remain" majority" in Parliament and any attempt to overturn the 2016 referendum vote in favour of Brexit would be a "democratic affront".

During the first two days of debate, at least 15 of May's own lawmakers explicitly said they intend to vote against the deal, and British media have speculated that as many as 100 could ultimately rebel. This is a point in time when everybody should be thinking of the national interest.

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