May loses vote on Brexit legal advice

Geraldine Edwards
December 5, 2018

The UK government will publish in full legal advice it received regarding British Prime Minister Theresa May's widely criticised Brexit deal after it was found to be in contempt of parliament for failing to originally do so.

And MPs backed a motion giving the Commons a direct say in what happens if her deal is rejected next Tuesday.

Starting Tuesday, the British Parliament will debate whether to accept the terms of the deal that was negotiated by May and representatives from the European Union.

Another critical vote on the Brexit deal is fast approaching.

Mr Cox released a summary of the advice yesterday, arguing that releasing the full document would not be in the public interest.

In dramatic scenes at Westminster, the Government bowed to pressure to publish the "final and full" legal advice to Cabinet on the deal after MPs voted by 311 to 293 that its failure to do so amounted to contempt.

In another sign of the government's weakness, lawmakers also passed an amendment giving Parliament more say over the government's next steps if the divorce deal is rejected in a vote on December 11.

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The government immediately pledged to publish the legal advice, prepared by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, on Wednesday.

The vote on the motion to find ministers in contempt of parliament is said to be a precursor on how MPs will vote on the government's Brexit deal next week.

The debate will be held after an intervention by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow.

"This house has now spoken and it's of huge constitutional and political signficance", said opposition Labour Party member Keir Starmer.

And Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable said the government was "on the ropes".

Theresa May said the United Kingdom would enjoy a better future outside the European Union.

This is an extraordinary development, but these proceedings will pale into insignificance next week should Mrs May lose the meaningful vote.

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"I wasn't afraid of the house falling or anything, I was like 'Okay what's gonna happen next?'" "It was nuts, it was insane ". There's no pictures left on the walls, there's no power, there's no fish tank left. "Everything that's not tied down broke".

"By treating parliament with contempt, the government has proved it has lost its majority and the respect of the House".

Meanwhile, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney hit back at "unfair" criticism, after pro-Brexit MPs accused him of scaremongering.

At the Commons Business Committee, Toyota Europe deputy managing director Tony Walker warned that without a deal to protect cross-continent supply chains, its operations in the United Kingdom would face major challenges.

He said the motion allowed those who shared his views to "crystallise and express" their opinions.

Defeat would leave the United Kingdom facing a chaotic "no-deal" Brexit on March 29 and could topple the prime minister, her government, or both.

The Prime Minister will assert that her Brexit deal, thrashed out over months of negotiations in Brussels, delivers on her commitments to end free movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

Protestors are reflected in a puddle as they wave European flags to demonstrate against Brexit in front of the Parliament in London, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.

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"I promise you today that this is the very best deal for the British people and I ask you to back in the best interest of our constituents and our country".

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