British MPs deal PM May stinging rebuke on Brexit

It is the first time in modern history that any Government has been found in contempt and means the highly sensitive advice provided by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox will be published, in contravention of long-standing practice.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Government has been found in contempt of Parliament for refusing to release its full legal advice on Brexit, underlining the depth of opposition among politicians to her deal on leaving the European Union.

The House of Commons lawmakers voted 311 to 293, backing the ruling that the government was in contempt of the Parliamentary procedure.

The amendment gives MPs the power to instruct the government what action to take if May's Brexit deal is, as expected, voted down in Parliament.

But the debate was delayed as MPs voted on the contempt motion.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said Tuesday's vote had "huge constitutional and political significance".

Mr Brake told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Clearly the Attorney General is the one who came to present the government's case for not releasing this and I suppose he is in line for being in contempt, and I think the house should consider suspending him for that action".

Prime Minister Theresa May's government also argues that during the deal's implementation period, the United Kingdom will negotiate a trade agreement with the bloc that will make the Irish backstop unnecessary.

Bercow said there was an "arguable case that a contempt has been committed", and set aside time on Tuesday to debate the issue - just as members of parliament were meant to begin a five-day debate on Brexit itself before their historic vote on the divorce agreement on December 11.

But Tory Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg told the programme: "I would say publish and avoid being in contempt of the House of Commons, which is a very serious matter".

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable repeated calls for a second European Union referendum, saying: "Theresa May's majority has evaporated and the credibility of her deal is evaporating with it".

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

The dispute came as the ECJ's advocate general Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona said the United Kingdom could withdraw its notification to leave the European Union before its exit in March 2019 without needing the approval of the other 27 states. To complicate matters even more, between 50 and 80 hard-line Conservative members of Parliament are likely to reject the deal.

But May's spokesman told reporters: "It does nothing in any event to change the clear position of the government that Article 50 is not going to be revoked". Rejecting it would leave the United Kingdom facing the prospect of a chaotic "no-deal" Brexit, but May's chances of winning majority backing for the deal appear slim.

"But I didn't play to gallery, I focused on getting a deal, that honours the referendum, sets us on course for a bright future and I did so through painstaking hard work".

"We should not let the search for a ideal Brexit prevent a good Brexit which delivers on the wishes of the British people".

  • Rogelio Becker