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Cross-party calls grow for Brexit legal advice to be published in full

Pressure on the government to provide details of legal advice about a possible Brexit deal is growing, with the DUP, Labour and Lib Dems demanding it be published, following calls from cabinet ministers to see the full document.

One option could be for Labour to seek to force publication via a Commons motion, as the party did with the government’s Brexit impact assessments.

Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP’s chief whip at Westminster, said the party, which supports Theresa May in government, would like to see the full document published, allowing not only ministers but MPs and the public to assess it.

The advice, drawn up by the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, at the request of Theresa May, looks into the various options connected to the backstop, seen as the final major impasse before a deal can be agreed.

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Cox gave ministers a summary of the advice and told them that if the UK insisted on the right to unilaterally end a backstop, opposed by the EU, it increased the risk of no deal.

It is understood that some ministers, among them Michael Gove, asked the prime minister whether they could see the full legal advice drawn up by Cox, rather than just hearing his summary and interpretations.

Donaldson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s in the public interest that we understand fully what is happening here. We’ve had that commitment already from the government, that they will tell us what the legal advice they have is in relation to the backstop.”

He said: “If the House of Commons is going to have a meaningful vote on a deal upon which this legal advice is very important, then I think people are entitled to know what that legal advice is.”