Theresa May's seven days to save her Brexit deal

Frederick Owens
December 4, 2018

Theresa May has been forced to publish the full legal advice on Brexit after MPs found her ministers in contempt of Parliament.

Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom confirmed that the government would respond promptly on Wednesday.

Shortly after the vote of contempt, an amendment to hand Parliament more power over Brexit should the vote on May's deal fail, also passed.

A senior European Union legal adviser said on Tuesday Britain had the right to withdraw its Brexit notice, opening a new front in a battle over Prime Minister Theresa May's plans to leave the bloc, which could be rejected in parliament next week.

Monday's angry session of Parliament did not bode well for the December 11 vote, which will come at the end of five days of bruising debate starting on Tuesday.

It comes after one of the EU's top law officers, the advocate general Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona, stated on Tuesday his advice to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that the United Kingdom could unilaterally stop Brexit by revoking Article 50.

He revealed he had received a letter from Mr Cox "within the last 10 minutes" and announced the contempt motion would be discussed just before the first debate on the Brexit divorce deal. "By treating Parliament with contempt, the Government has proved it has lost its majority and the respect of the House".

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

Following Tuesday's vote, the privileges committee will decide which ministers should be held accountable for this failure and what sanction to apply, ranging from a reprimand to a potential suspension from the House of Commons.

This ultimately would have helped stop the immediate publication of the full legal advice on the Brexit deal - something which opposition MPs have demanded.

The small Northern Irish party, the Democratic Unionists, which props up Ms May's minority Government, joined Opposition parties in voting against the Government on the contempt issue.

In reality, the vote was about putting pressure on a weakened Government.

In yet another blow to Theresa May's Brexit plans, MPs voted on Tuesday in favour of getting a "meaningful vote" if the Prime Minister's proposals are voted down.

Grieve's amendment, which is backed by the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, is aimed at ensuring any such motion can be amended by MPs.

She has toured the country and television studios to try to sell her deal, but a move to present her government's legal advice to Parliament seemed to backfire on Monday.

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