News

Final legal advice on Brexit to be disclosed to MPs

By on
15

‘Legal professional privilege’ gets rare airtime in Commons

Not the Brexit legal advice

It’s a lawyer’s nightmare: you pen a piece of legal advice intended for your client, written in a rush as you’ve got a million emails to attend to, and then someone a few weeks later demands that the legal advice be published for everyone to pick over.

But that is just what is going to happen to legal advice provided by the government’s chief legal adviser, the Attorney General, concerning the legal ramifications of the Brexit deal.

Sir Kier Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary, was successful yesterday in a motion calling for publication of the advice that includes advice on what is known as “the backstop” (the stopgap solution to the key Brexit issue of what will happen to the border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland).

One hopes the Attorney General took his time over it — and double checked his punctuation.

The advice, penned in October of this year, will, presumably, however, be top notch since it was drafted by Sir Geoffrey Cox QC MP, an extremely successful barrister whose practice ranges from commercial to fraud to constitutional and who made fame at the Conservative Party conference earlier this year for his booming speech to Tory supporters. He also hit headlines in 2015 when Legal Cheek flagged that his annual earnings were reported to be over £800,000.

The 2019 Firms Most List

During the debate on the motion in the House of Commons, Starmer, once a human rights lawyer who also became the director of public prosecutions, pre-empted counter-arguments that the advice is covered by legal professional privilege (the government is the “client” and the attorney-general is the “lawyer” in this scenario) by arguing that the situation was “unprecedented” and “successive governments have waived privilege in such exceptional circumstances”.

(Question for Legal Practice Course students out there: if the final advice is published, has the Government in effect waived privilege for all of the advice?)

Criticism of Starmer’s request came from Tory MPs arguing that the Brexit discussions were “live negotiations” and still continuing and that legal advice given at such a time is “never revealed”.

Starmer clarified that he was asking for advice to be published only once the Brexit negotiations have been concluded but before the MPs must vote on the final withdrawal agreement.

This is not the first time that legal advice on a critical government decision has been the subject of such a furore. In April 2005, after putting up fierce resistance to it, the then Tony Blair-led government was forced to publish the advice of Lord Goldsmith into the legality of the invasion of Iraq.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

15 Comments

Roy

My predictions – several resignations after Cabinet meeting this pm.

Prime Minister to face a vote of No Confidence from Tory MPs before the weekend (could be today even).

May to lose, and all hell to break loose. Short the £ now if you have a spread betting account.

Anonymous

Don’t think May would outright lose a no-con (though she might) – more likely she wins but a three figure sum vote against, and she has to resign because her continued leadership is untenable in such a scenario.

Roy

Isn’t it a secret ballot? More likely that MPs would vote against her.

The extreme Remainers might vote against her too in the hope that somehow they get a replacement PM who gives them another referendum.

Anonymous

What does ‘short the pound’ mean? And how would one place a bet on such?

JD Partner

We had a similar phrase in our office which we used a lot when we had a particularly diminutive trainee.

Anonymous

“Short the pound” would mean borrowing large amounts of GBP in order to exchange for another currency (probably USD or maybe EUR) at the current rate, in the expectation that the strength of GBP will decline imminently and you’ll be able to exchange the other currency for much more GBP than you initially bought.

Though the poster, who I assume has never actually traded FX, then says to do the “short” via a spread betting account, which may have economically similar effects but is not shorting in a real sense.

Would probably have been a silly short term trade either way had anyone taken his advice – at 2.30 the GBP/USD spot was c. 1.297 and it’s now c.1.299 in after-hours trading. It’s true that around 6.30 it reached a low of 1.291ish but you’d have had to (a) bought a fuckton of the other FX and (b) sold at exactly the right moment to have had much chance at profit.

Roy

What’s the price now then, clever clogs?

Anonymous

Fair cop, thought if she got through the night then no one had the balls to go against her. I was wrong, but tbf May’s whole “Cabinet has reached a collective decision” spiel was very misleading.

Anonymous

don’t worry, not everyone has my crystal ball talents.

Rumours are the 48 letters are near. How low will the pound go? I’m guessing 1.25 to the $

Not a trader myself

How much is a fuckton ? I’m going for 1 x 10^8 paaaaaaaahnds

Anonymous

Praise where praise is due – an actual decent article on here.

Anonymous

Are you blind? There’s loads of top articles on here. There was an article earlier about a lawyer who dressed as Elle Woods. That’s top quality stuff.

Anonymous

VOTE LEAVE

TAKE CONTROL

Win

Anonymous

LLL

Anonymous

Are you related to the Corbyn brothers -sisters bore?

Join the conversation

Related Stories