Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The government of British Prime Minister Theresa May issued legal advice for its Brexit deal Wednesday, after Parliament found it in contempt for not sharing the information -- an unprecedented move.
Lawmakers say the government's reluctance to share the advice jeopardized the Brexit talks in Parliament ahead of the Dec. 11 vote in which lawmakers will be asked to put their stamp of approval on May's plan. They voted 311-293 to hold the government in contempt.
The vote marked the first time in history British Parliament has held the government in contempt.
The legal advice from attorney general Geoffrey Cox warned that Britain could be trapped in "protracted and repeated rounds of negotiations" in the years to come, over the terms of the Northern Ireland backstop, The Guardian reported.
"Having reviewed the attorney general's legal advice, it's obvious why this needed to be placed in the public domain," Keir Starmer, the Brexit shadow secretary, said. "All week we have heard from government ministers that releasing this information could harm the national interest. Nothing of the sort.
"All this advice reveals is the central weaknesses in the government's deal."
"It is unthinkable that the government tried to keep this information from Parliament -- and indeed the public -- before next week's vote," Starmer continued.
May has said the Northern Ireland backstop would not corner Britain, noting in the past it would give the country "important benefits of access to EU's market without many of the obligations," the Independent reported.
The backstop debate -- over a possible hard border between United Kingdom member Northern Ireland and Ireland, which is not part of the U.K. -- has been heated and remains one of the stickiest points in Brexit negotiations.
Currently, the border is open where goods and services are traded with few restrictions. That could all change depending on final negotiations, which could lead to differing customs and regulatory rules, slowing trade.
In an attempt to avoid hard border checkpoints, the European Union has suggested that Northern Ireland remain in the EU's customs union. May's administration has rejected that idea, saying it would threaten the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.
"In the absence of a right of termination, there is a legal risk that the United Kingdom might become subject to protracted and repeating rounds of negotiations," Cox said in his legal advice about the running dispute.
"This risk must be weighed against the political and economic imperative on both sides to reach an agreement that constitutes a politically stable and permanent basis for their future relationship. This is a political decision for the government."
Britain is set to leave the European Union in March.