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‘Grow up and get real!’ MPs blasted by attorney general

‘It’s no use baying and shouting’: Attorney general Geoffrey Cox tells MPs yesterday he is guarding the national interest by not publishing the advice in full PICTURE: UNIVERSAL NEWS AND SPORT

MPs should ‘grow up and get real’, and accept the government cannot release legal advice on Brexit because of the national interest, the attorney general claimed yesterday.

Geoffrey Cox insisted ‘there is nothing to see here’ as he faced calls to publish the full legal analysis of Theresa May’s proposed EU withdrawal deal.

Tensions increased after a 56-page summary revealed the EU will still be able to overrule some UK laws after Brexit. Six opposition parties united to accuse the government of contempt of parliament after it ignored a vote compelling it to release the full advice.

‘It’s no use, the baying and shouting of members opposite – what I am trying to do is guard the public interest,’ Mr Cox said. ‘It’s time they grew up and got real.’

Commons Speaker John Bercow last night allowed a motion of contempt against the government to be debated today over the alleged failure to publish the full legal advice on the proposed Brexit deal.

The shadow attorney general, Nick Thomas-Symonds, who co-signed a cross-party letter, said the government had taken an ‘unprecedented decision not to comply with the unanimous and binding decision of this House’.

Strictly fan: Theresa May tells This Morning hosts Phillip Schofield and Rochelle Humes that she doesn’t want any TV debate with Jeremy Corbyn to clash with the BBC dance show PICTURE: PA/ITV

The prime minister will also today open five days of debate on her proposed deal, claiming it delivers a Brexit that ‘takes back control of our borders, laws and money’.

But Mrs May said she will not debate with Jeremy Corbyn on ITV if it means missing Strictly on BBC1.

Mrs May and the Labour leader have said they want a live Sunday night TV debate on the Brexit plan ahead of the crucial Commons vote next Tuesday.

Mrs May told ITV’s This Morning: ‘He said he wanted it to be on ITV so he could see the final of I’m A Celebrity. He wants to be home in time for that.

‘Actually I think his proposal means that I’d miss Strictly and, I hate to say this on ITV, but I have to say I’m a bit of a Strictly fan.’

The summary of the advice warns that the Northern Ireland backstop will remain in force until the EU agrees otherwise, and if the EU stalls on a new trade deal any complaint will be heard by the European Court of Justice.

In a rare public appearance, Olly Robbins, the government’s chief negotiator, admitted the UK ‘had not won the argument’ on frictionless trade. So the backstop was ‘a slightly uncomfortable necessity for both sides’, he told MPs.

New Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay got the date wrong when he said the UK would leave the EU on March 31, rather than March 29. But he played down suggestions next week’s vote will be postponed in the face of opposition from around 100 Tory MPs.

The prime minister insisted she will ‘still have a job in two weeks’ despite the risk of MPs throwing out her deal on December 11 – a possibility she acknowledged for the first time.

‘What happens if the vote doesn’t go through is that the government has to come back to parliament and say what the next step is,’ she admitted. ‘But I’m focusing on getting that vote through.’

■ UKIP’S former deputy chairwoman has quit the party in protest at leader Gerard Batten’s association with the far-right figure Tommy Robinson. Suzanne Evans, once a leadership candidate, said she had become ‘increasingly alarmed in recent months by the perverse direction’ the party was taking. Mr Batten has taken Mr Robinson, co-founder of the English Defence League, on as an adviser.

■ SAJID JAVID has said it is ‘very unlikely’ MPs will see plans for Britain’s future immigration system before they vote on the Brexit deal next week. Explaining the delay, the home secretary said: ‘This is the biggest change in our immigration system in over four decades,’ adding it was important ‘we get the details right’. He said the white paper, originally expected a year ago, will be published ‘soon’.