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Privilege (Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Advice)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Nigel Dodds Nigel Dodds Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Reform and Constitutional Issues), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Brexit), DUP Westminster Leader 1:45 pm, 4th December 2018

I think the massive advantage to the Irish Government, other Governments and the European Commission in respect of future leverage over the negotiations is handed over in the withdrawal agreement. I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says, because the Attorney General went on the record yesterday to say:

“There is nothing to see here.”—[Official Report, 3 December 2018;
Vol. 650, c. 557.]

So there is obviously nothing of concern about national security in his advice. That is what he said himself.

The reality is that we had this debate on 13 November. The Government had the choice to vote against the motion and decided not to because they feared they would lose the vote. Their abstaining from a vote on an Humble Address cannot invalidate the motion, because that would set a very serious precedent.

Some of the legal advice that the Attorney General has given to the Cabinet—the advice it is crucial that we must have—has already been leaked by members of the Cabinet to the press and media. I think the Attorney General accepts that. The reality is that members of the Cabinet have already released to members of the press and media some of the advice given by the Attorney General in terms to the Cabinet. The Attorney General is somewhat estopped, if I may use a legal term, from saying that the rest of us are not entitled to have that advice. If some members of the media and press are entitled to have it, Members of this House are entitled to have it.