Theresa May suffers three Brexit defeats in Commons

05 December, 2018, 03:54 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • UK told Brexit could be cancelled without approval of other members

The House of Commons voted 311-293 in favour of a motion censuring the government over failing to release the legal advice.

Opposition parties and her own nominal allies in the Northern Irish DUP were pressing on Tuesday for her government to be found in contempt of parliament for failing to publish in full the legal advice on Brexit that it commissioned.

In a thumping defeat for the government, Theresa May's ministers will have to publish the Brexit legal advice.

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 was still due to address parliament later on Tuesday.

The first day of debate has been overshadowed by concerns surrounding the government's legal advice on May's Brexit deal - which was not published in full and shared with government officials.

He added: "I think there may be a whisper and a scintilla of an idea that somehow the Government wasn't deeply glooming about the fact that this might bully one or two into voting for the arrangement. The Grieve amendment gives teeth back to the House of Commons so MPs can have some real bite".

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

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

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Advocate General Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona told the European Court of Justice that a British decision to revoke the countdown to departure would be legally valid.

"And despite some of the bogus claims that have been made by those who oppose staying in the European Union, there would be no price to pay - political or financial - if we were to take back the Article 50 letter".

Following the votes, Mrs May officially opened five days of debate in parliament on her Brexit deal, ahead of a crucial vote on December 11th, when MPs will be asked to approve it.

And it can happen only if the withdrawal treaty has not yet been "formally concluded", if the revocation "respect [s] national constitutional requirements", such as a parliament vote, and is "formally notified" to the EU Council, he said.

Downing Street sources attempted to play down the mauling by MPs, insisting that while "everybody knows the parliamentary arithmetic" - the loss of Mrs May's majority as a result of the disastrous 2017 election gamble - the Government had still won the "overwhelming majority" of votes since then.

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.

They hope this will allow parliament to express its support for alternative approaches - and prevent the government either hurtling towards a no-deal Brexit without the backing of MPs, or imposing a plan B of its own devising.

If lawmakers do not back her deal, May says, they could open the door either to Britain falling out of the European Union without measures to soften the transition or to the possibility that Brexit does not happen.

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