‘Come clean’ Davis warns May to publish backstop dossier or suffer rebuke like Tony Blair

Posted on Nov 6 2018 - 9:35am by admin

The former Brexit Secretary demanded the Prime Minister and Cabinet publish in full the legal advice provided by the Attorney General regarding the Irish backstop arrangement, in order to avoid severe reputational damage.

Writing in the Sunday Times, he said: “We’ve now learnt that the current Attorney General, the straight-talking Geoffrey Cox, expressed his doubts about the Prime Minister’s Chequers plan to the Cabinet on October 16.

“He is quoted in one report that said, ‘any Northern Ireland-only arrangements for customs after Brexit could mean the province was ‘torn out of the UK’ and leave it ‘controlled by the EU’’.”

Mr Davis warned the Attorney General would not have been using “rhetorical flourish”, and stressed there is “genuine and significant concerns regarding the implications of any fresh backstop text”.

He added the Government must be “transparent” in regards to the dossier, and warned that the “authority of the constitution is on the line”.

Pointing to the example of Tony Blair’s Government, he noted the former Prime Minister’s reputation “never recovered” following the publication of a dossier into the legality of the Iraq war.

Notably, Mr Blair’s Government failed to publish in full the legal advice it received from former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith.

The dossier was later leaked ahead of the 2005 General Election, and revealed that Lord Goldsmith had expressed doubts over the conflict.

Pointing to the backlash against the former Prime Minister, Mr Davis said: “Blair suffered because he wriggled and prevaricated. Look how history regards him now.

“I would urge the Prime Minister to do the right thing and publish the advice, and if she won’t, then the Cabinet should exert its authority to compel her to do so.”

In particular, Mr Davis expressed concern over the possibility of the UK heading towards a “Hotel California Brexit”, where Britain “checks out” of the EU but can never truly leaves.

There is growing concern among Brexiteers that Mrs May’s “temporary” backstop arrangement – where Northern Ireland would remain inside the EU’s customs union until a final trade deal is agreed in order to avoid the reimplementation of a hard border on the island of Ireland – may in fact become indefinite due to an absence of a firm end date.

Mr Davis pointed to reports that the Attorney General has warned the Cabinet that the UK will not know when a potential backstop arrangement would end, and compared the scenario to being “stuck in Dante’s first circle of hell”.

The former Brexit Secretary stated firmly it would be “time to put an end to this nonsense once and for all”, in the event that no firm end date can be provided.

In response to the confusion, Mr Davis called on the Government to “come clean” and lay their “cards on the table” so that MPs can make up their minds.

In a sharp warning, he concluded: “Blair learnt to his cost that the truth will come out. This Prime Minister and the Government should not make the same mistake.”

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