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Government prevarication over publishing legal advice creates impression they have something to hide

Ulster Unionist MEP, Jim Nicholson, has called on the Government to publish the Attorney General’s legal opinion on the draft Withdrawal Agreement without any further delay. He also challenged the Government to reveal what legal advice they sought before signing up to the backstop in December 2017.

Jim Nicholson said:

“The Government should do the right thing and publish the legal opinion which the Cabinet received from the Attorney General regarding the draft Withdrawal Agreement without any further delay. The Government are using ‘convention’ as an excuse not to publish the legal advice, however these are exceptional circumstances. The decisions made in Westminster in the coming days will have huge constitutional and economic implications for the whole of the United Kingdom for decades to come. It is only right that the political representatives making those decisions are fully briefed and advised of the potential legal repercussions.

“The more that the government prevaricates, it creates the impression that they’ve got something to hide. It not only undermines any support that the Prime Minister may have been hoping to garner for the draft Withdrawal Agreement, but it also undermines confidence in the government itself.

“I also challenge the government to reveal what legal advice they received in December 2017 before they signed up to the EU-UK Joint Report. The inclusion of the backstop means Northern Ireland will be ruled by a committee over which the EU has a veto. It wouldn`t be acceptable in any other part of the United Kingdom. We’ve been paying for that strategic mistake ever since with our negotiators hamstrung and outmanoeuvred in their efforts. The integrity of the Union itself should not be the price we have to pay for that huge error of judgement.”

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