By Elizabeth Piper and Andrew MacAskill
LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government fought on Monday to defend its Brexit deal by outlining the legal basis for parliament to support its plan to leave the European Union, but instead seemed to fan the flames of rebellion.
May faces an uphill struggle to secure parliament’s approval in a vote on Dec. 11, when many Brexit supporters and opponents alike say they will reject her vision for leaving the EU, Britain’s biggest shift in foreign policy in over 40 years.
She has toured the country and television studios to try to sell her deal, but a move to present her government’s legal advice to parliament seemed to backfire on Monday.
With several lawmakers doubling down on their criticism of the deal, the parliamentary speaker also said he would consider a request by the opposition Labour Party and other parties to consider launching contempt proceedings against May’s government for failing to release the full legal advice.
It was a threat that one government source shrugged off as just a “process row”.
At a rowdy session of parliament, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox outlined the legal advice he had given to the government, including over a “backstop” arrangement to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU member state Ireland if a future UK-EU trading deal is not reached in time.