Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

May suffers historic defeat as Parliament takes back control of Brexit

Before Brexit debate Britain PM Theresa May suffers damaging blow UK told Brexit could be cancelled without approval of other members
| 05 December, 2018, 03:54

The government reacted to the defeat by saying it would published the "final and full" advice on Wednesday.

Attorney General Cox sparked anger on Monday when he published only a position statement, rather than the "full legal advice" insisted on by the Commons last month.

The Commons supported a motion, backed by six opposition parties, demanding full disclosure by 311 votes to 293.

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

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.

May faces an uphill struggle to secure Parliament's approval in a vote on December 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.

If May's Brexit plan is voted down, the government would have to come back to Parliament with an alternative plan within 21 days and it could then be changed by MPs - a growing number of whom favour a Norway-style relationship which would include Single Market membership.

May, for her part, has said the full extent of advice received by her government over the Brexit deal is confidential under lawyer-client privilege.

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.


Grieve's move is the latest in a series of procedural wrangles that have characterised the fraught process of shepherding May's Brexit deal through a hung parliament.

The governing Conservative Party and the main opposition party, Labour, are internally divided on how Brexit should proceed.

Supporters of the amendment included former loyalists, including Mrs May's sacked deputy Damian Green, the ex-defence secretary Michael Fallon, and Jo Johnson, who quit the Government to campaign for a second vote.

"We have therefore been left with no option but to write to the speaker of the House of Commons to ask him to launch proceedings of contempt", Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said.

Speaking in the Commons after the vote, Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom said: "We've tested the opinion of the House twice on this very serious subject. 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".

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.

"It is a tribute to the perseverance of the Scottish parliamentarians involved that we will finally get clarity from the Court of Justice on this important question".

Hardline Conservative Brexiteers say May's compromise deal does not represent enough of a break with Brussels.

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