Pressure is mounting for Theresa May to release documents linked to Brexit, with Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who chairs the Eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG), suggesting the information should “certainly be made available” to Cabinet ministers to ensure they know what they are signing up to.
His calls were followed by Environment Secretary Michael Gove yesterday.
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock dismissed calls to release legal advice and said a decision to do so would only be made in “exceptional circumstances” by the Prime Minister.
He said Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, the Government’s chief legal adviser, could answer questions in the Commons.
Theresa May and Jacob Rees-Mogg
He can answer questions in the Commons but it’s not normal to publish the legal advice
Legal advice is usually confidential, and Mr Hancock said: “We’ve got a brilliant Attorney General, who sets out the legal position.
“He can answer questions in the Commons but it’s not normal to publish the legal advice.
“That’s a decision in exceptional circumstances for the Prime Minister.”
Mr Rees-Mogg said he is more concerned over whether the deal is good or bad rather than all MPs seeing such advice, while also expressing wider concerns about Cabinet being “bounced” into Brexit decisions.
Mrs May’s minority Government allies the DUP and Brexiteer MPs, including Environment Secretary Michael Gove, are among those who want to see the full legal advice setting out how any customs arrangement to avoid a hard Irish border could be ended to avoid it becoming a permanent settlement.
A Commons vote on the documents could be forced when Parliament returns after its mini November recess.
This would pile further pressure on the Prime Minister – who travels to Belgium today to attend a working dinner with Nato leaders.
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Brexit latest: Leo Varadkar wants a level playing field
2.45pm update: Brexit will have big impact on Europe’s economy – candidate to replace Merkel as CDU leader
Britain’s exit from the EU will have a major impact on continental Europe’s economy, said German conservative Friedrich Merz, who is running to replace Angela Merkel as leader of the CDU party.
But he doesn’t want the UK to hold another vote on EU membership as a reversal of the decision to leave would create an embittered minority of Brexiteers.
Speaking during a panel discussion on Europe’s Growth Challenge, hosted by think tank Chatham House, Mr Merz added: “Brexit will happen. Perhaps they will come back one day.”
2.30pm update: Brexit case moves to European Court after appeal bid dismissed
The European Court will be asked if the UK can unilaterally stop Britain’s exit from the EU after the UK government was refused an appeal by Scotland’s highest court.
In September, the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled to refer the question of whether the UK can unilaterally revoke its Article 50 request to leave the EU to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) after a case was brought by a cross-party group of politicians.
A date had been pencilled in for November 27 but the UK government made an applicarion for permission to appeal the ruling to the UK Supreme Court.
But Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge and Lord President of the Court of Session, has refused the application. The case will continue to the CJEU in the current timescale
2.15pm update: Varoufakis hits out at Brussels attempts to get Theresa May ‘stabbed by comrades’
Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has explained techniques used by the European Union which have been used to try to “diminish” Theresa May’s power in discussions.
He said a key example of the EU trying to damage Theresa May’s power in Brexit negotiations was at the Salzburg summit.
Mr Varoufakis, who has negotiated with the EU during the debt crisis in 2015, also warned his battle was “lost at home” and claimed you cannot prepare for “when your comrades stab you in the back.
Speaking on a Guardian podcast, the former Greek finance minister said the Salzburg summit was a clear example of the European Union trying to “diminish her gradually”.
2pm update: ‘No one is listening!’ EU chief Barnier IGNORED during speech and EVEN Merkel ‘walks off’
The EU’S chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier was humiliated during a speech on Thursday where some members of the audience simply ignored him, with even German Chancellor Angela Merkel “walking off” halfway through.
Michel Barnier was addressing the European People’s Party (EPP) Congress in Helsinki on Thursday when he was ignored by members of the room.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel even “walked off” during the European Union chief Brexit negotiator’s speech, to speak with Manfred Weber.
Euronews’ Political Editor Darren McCaffrey said: “The most extraordinary thing about Barnier’s speech, literally NO-ONE is listening, I mean NO-ONE!!!
“Most people talking amongst themselves or went off to vote. Actually felt very disrespectful. He did not hold the room.”
Paul Withers taking over live reporting from Simon Osborne.
12.40pm update: Varadkar demands “level playing field” in Brexit deal
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar insists Britain must enshrine EU environmental, social and state aid rules as the price for striking a long-term future partnership deal with Brussels.
In a move that will infuriate Brexiteers, the Taoiseach also warned any future relationship between the UK and the bloc “must provide a level playing field”.
He did not spell out what that meant, Dublin and Brussels are demanding the UK commits to maintaining and updating new EU rules and regulations that affect competitiveness as the price of limited access to the single market.
Mr Varadkar said: “We want the future relationship between the EU and UK to be as close as possible, both in terms of the economy and security, but it must provide a level playing field and the integrity of our single market must be upheld.”
Jeremy Hunt said expected a Brexit deal in seven days was ‘probably pushing it’
12.03pm update: Business leaders join call for People’s Vote
More than 1,000 British business leaders are backing calls for a second EU referendum, according to a new poll.
The research was carried out by the People’s Vote campaign, the group behind a march last month which saw 700,000 people head to Westminster to demand another Brexit vote.
Sir Mike Rake, former president of the CBI and former chairman of BT, said: “The polling shows that business is deeply concerned by the Brexit process and that support is growing for a People’s Vote on the final deal.
“Retailers are worried about getting stock from the continent, car makers about delays at the border bringing their production lines to a grinding halt and everyone from hotel and leisure to the food industry is worried about how they are going to find staff.”
11.38am update: Brexit Cabinet meeting pushed back to next week
Government sources have said its is unlikely a crunch Cabinet meeting to discuss a Brexit deal will take place before next week.
Theresa May is expected to convene an emergency session of her cabinet in the coming days to secure consensus on the Northern Ireland backstop, the main obstacle to securing a deal to leave the European Union.
Ministers were understood to be ready for the talks today or tomorrow but that has now been ruled out.
10.59am update: Seven day Brexit deal “probably pushing it”
Jeremy Hunt has warned it is “probably pushing it” to expect a Brexit deal within the next seven days.
The Foreign Secretary said he was confident a deal over the terms of Britain’s departure would be struck but admitted: “how we get there is incredibly complicated.”
Speaking in Paris, Mr Hunt insisted there would never be a second EU referendum.
He used his speech to reassure European allies the UK will not diverge sharply from EU regulations once it cuts ties with Brussels and vowed Brexit would not signal “a race to the bottom”.
Speaking in French, Mr Hunt said: ”We have offered a framework for our future relationship which should give you confidence that we are not going to pursue a race to the bottom.”
Michel Barnier has warned of a ‘Farage in every country’
10.32am update: Irish foreign minister cools Brexit expecations
Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney has tried to dampen expectations of an imminent Brexit deal and said it would be wrong to assume that any consensus within Theresa May’s Cabinet meant an agreement had been clinched.
He said: “In terms of commentary today, particularly in British media, I would urge caution that an imminent breakthrough is not necessarily to be taken for granted, not by a long shot.
“Repeatedly, people seem to make the same mistake over and over again assuming that if the British cabinet agrees something, well then that’s it. Then, everything is agreed.
“This is a negotiation. I would urge caution that people don’t get carried away on the back of rumour in the coming days.”
10.20am update: Brexiteers fear Single Market by the “backdoor”
Theresa May’s cabinet is rebelling against her Brexit deal, saying the move should not mean Britain stays in single market “by the backdoor”.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is understood to have issued the warning to the Prime Minister in yesterday’s meeting of the cabinet.
Feras are rising the UK would have to abide by regulations such as working time directives and EU rules on state aid.
Mr Grayling said such restrictions would prevent the UK from gaining an advantage from being outside the bloc – the whole reason for Brexit.
David Davis wants the Government to publish its legal advice
10.03 update: Barnier warns of “Farage in every country”
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has warned of the need to fight against forces seeking to “demolish” the European project, saying: “There is now a Farage in every country.”
Speaking to a conference of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) in Finland, Mr Barnier said: “The European project is fragile, it is under threat, it is perishable and at the same time it is vital.”
He warned that by the middle of the century, Germany would be the only European country with an economy large enough to sit among the G8 group in its own right.
He said European countries must work together to defend their values and way of life against the alternative models presented by rising powers like China.
He told the event: “We must forcefully defend and promote our European model.
“If we don’t write the rules of the game, China will write them for us. We want a Europe that brings opportunities for everyone – a renewed social market economy.”
“We all have to fight against those who want to demolish Europe with their fear, their populist deceit, their attacks against the European project.
“There is now a Farage in every country.”
9.28am update: Cabinet meeting delayed until weekend
A crucial cabinet meeting to agree the UK’s Brexit negotiating position has been pushed back from Thursday to the weekend or early next week amid a row over whether to provide the full legal advice on the backstop to senior ministers.
Some ministers had believed the cabinet could have met late on Thursday afternoon to sign off Theresa May’s Brexit plan but No 10 indicated that the crunch meeting would not now take place until later.
8.59am update: Davis demands full disclosure of legal advice
Former Brexit secretary David Davis said the full government legal advice on Brexit must be published.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What we must see is the complete legal advice, not a summary.”
Mr Davis said MPs needed to know how the Irish backstop would work.
He said: “Are we going to have to wait until the Irish Government says it’s OK to leave? If so, that’s not acceptable.”
“Are we going to have to wait until it’s convenient for the European Commission to say when we leave? If so, it’s not acceptable.
“I suspect that they have not pinned down any of these issues and they need to be pinned down before Parliament votes.”
Mr Davis said the Government had been “unwilling to take any risk” in testing the EU’s negotiating position except on the exit bill.
Leaving without a deal would mean some “hiccups in the first year” but the UK would have “all the rights and controls over our own destiny”.
Mr Davis said claims that there would be insulin and food shortages were “nonsense”.
He said: ”We are a big country, we can look after ourselves.”
Theresa May is coming under pressure to publish legal advice
7.33am update: Jeremy Hunt celebrates relationship between Britain and France
Britain and France will remain “tied by bonds of friendship and commerce” in the decades to come following Brexit, according to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Mr Hunt will tell an audience in Paris that the cross-channel relationship is “one of competition and co-operation, similarity and difference”.
Speaking in French, Mr Hunt will say the close links between the two countries were highlighted by the response to recent terrorist atrocities.