Government's action on Brexit legal advice "not good enough" - Starmer

29 November 2018

In an urgent question today, Labour has accused the Government of withholding information after it announced that it would publish a "full, reasoned, position statement" but not the full legal advice on Brexit that it has received.

On 13 November 2018, the Labour Party used an Opposition Day debate to ask the Government to publish any legal advice that they have received on Brexit. The Opposition used the humble address mechanism, which is seen as binding. The motion was passed without a division.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay confirmed in a written statement on Wednesday 29 November that a,

"document, setting out the Government's legal position on the proposed Withdrawal Agreement, is expected to be published on Monday 3 December. The Attorney General will also make an oral statement to the House of Commons on Monday 3 December."

The Opposition do not feel that this fulfils the obligations set out in the humble address. Starmer raised this issue in a point of order yesterday. The Speaker responded saying;

"It is not just an expression of the opinion of the House; it is an expression of the will of the House that certain documents should be provided to it. It is then for the Government to respond, and we await that response, which it is to be expected will be swift."

Solicitor General Robert Buckland responded to Starmer's urgent question, urging the House to wait for the publication of the document on Monday. He said, "The Government will provide a full and clear legal position to this House and then it is a matter for this House to judge whether that is sufficient".

The Shadow Brexit Secretary said that this position was "not good enough", and opposition MPs criticised the Government for not opposing the motion if they were opposed to publishing legal advice.

Image: PA

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