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Leading Brexiter Liam Fox urges support for May’s deal | Financial Times

The Prime Minister told Cabinet it was a "long-standing convention" that "neither the fact nor the content of law officers' advice is shared outside Government without their consent".

He said: "Today's finding of contempt is a badge of shame for this Government".

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the Government has been "wilfully refusing to comply" with a binding order issued by MPs over the Brexit legal advice.

He said: "The House has at its disposal the means by which to enforce its will".

Lawmakers can send the issue to a committee with the power to sanction ministers.

"I don't think all the details have been unpacked for the public in a way which is comprehensible, and I think they will swing round behind a Prime Minister who takes a resolute approach, doesn't want to be bullied by the European Union, stands up for the UK's long term interest".

Labour, the Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democratics and the Democratic Unionists have signed a joint letter to John Bercow, the Commons speaker, suggesting the government was in contempt of parliament for failing to publish the full Brexit legal advice from British Attorney General Geoffrey Cox. However, they have refused to do so.

"It is highly regrettable that the government has let it come to this, but ministers left the opposition with no option but to bring forward these proceedings", said Sir Keir.

"I appeal to all members right across this House that, if they seek to pass this amendment, they should refer it to the committee in line with our parliamentary procedures and I urge all members to support the Government's amendment".

Media captionThe moment the voting figures were announced and the government was told to disclose its legal advice over Brexit.

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"The Government must not be allowed to use this chaotic situation to take focus away from the mess they are making of Brexit".

The result of the vote also orders "immediate publication" of the full legal advice.

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said: "We've tested the opinion of the House twice on this very serious subject".

The issue risks overshadowing Mrs May's effort to win over MPs ahead of the showdown in a week's time. Both wings of the Tory party are rowing in behind her on the contempt debate, with Brexit opponent Dominic Grieve and Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg both saying they'll vote with the government.

Mrs May will say that to respect the 2016 referendum result would require "a Brexit that takes back control of our borders, laws and money" and "a Brexit that sets ourselves on course for a better future outside the European Union, as a globally trading nation, in charge of our own destiny and seizing the opportunities of trade with some of the fastest-growing and most dynamic economies across the world". Under the agreement reached with Brussels, failure to reach an alternate deal defaults to a backstop in the form of a "single customs territory between the (European) Union and the United Kingdom".

And she will insist: This is the deal that delivers for the British people.

Several others have submitted separate amendments requiring the government to rethink the arrangements around the so-called "backstop" on Northern Ireland, created to prevent the installation of border infrastructure on the land frontier with Ireland - a so-called "hard border".

But pressure rose after a new apparent leak in the Daily Telegraph, which said May's Brexit adviser Olly Robbins warned the backstop risked a "bad outcome" in which regulatory checks would be needed across the Irish Sea and security co-operation would be at risk.

Deputy DUP leader Nigel Dodds said: "The overall context of this is. a deeply unattractive, unsatisfactory presentation and he (Cox) needs to therefore rather than recommend this agreement, recommend that it is rejected".

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