Government stands firm in contempt row over Brexit legal advice

Marsha Scott
December 5, 2018

Mr Cox responded by insisting the Government has "gone out of its way" to satisfy Parliament's motion calling for the release of the full legal advice.

The prime minister appeared before MPs to begin five days of debate on her Brexit deal shortly after bowing to demands to publish the "final and full" legal advice given to Cabinet about it.

The Commons supported a motion demanding full disclosure of the government's legal advice, by 311 votes to 293.

"The motion makes clear the government must now publish the attorney general's final legal advice in full", Starmer said.

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 European Union member state Ireland if a future U.K. -EU trading deal is not reached in time.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve's amendment will give MPs more of a say if Mrs May loses the crunch vote on her Brexit deal.

Addressing the Commons at the start of a five-day debate on her proposed Brexit agreement, Mrs May said Brexit divisions had become "corrosive" to United Kingdom politics and the public believed the issue had "gone on long enough" and must be resolved.

"Never before has the House of Commons found ministers in contempt of parliament".

"The numbers in the Houses of Parliament look pretty formidable for Theresa May", said Alan Wager, a research associate at the U.K.at the Changing Europe think tank.

In a speech repeatedly interrupted by MPs attacking her deal, the Prime Minister pledged to give Parliament and the devolved administrations a "greater and more formal role" in forthcoming negotiations with the European Union over trade - but declined to say whether MPs would get a vote on that deal.

We did it! Demonstrators celebrate as a suspension of fuel tax hikes is announced
We did it! Demonstrators celebrate as a suspension of fuel tax hikes is announced

He said: "Parliament has tonight asserted its sovereignty to ensure that amendments - such as for a People's Vote - can be made to any motion if or when the government's proposed deal for leaving the European Union has been defeated".

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.

Conservative House leader Andrea Leadsom told MPs that May's government had a right to receive confidential opinions that were unhampered by political considerations.

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

The row is unlikely to have any impact on the course of Brexit.

The advice from the ECJ advocate general - not binding but usually heeded by the court - suggested to some lawmakers that revoking Britain's "Article 50" divorce notice was an option.

Reflecting on her personal journey, May added: "I have spent almost two years negotiating this deal".

In the most extreme no-deal scenario shopping bills could rise by up to 10%, but even in an orderly no-deal withdrawal, with a transition period, he said grocery prices could rise by 6%.

"The British people want us to get on with a deal that honours the referendum and allows us to come together again as a country, whichever way we voted", May was due to say.

"This is the deal that delivers for the British people".

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Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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