Political crisis in United Kingdom ahead of Brexit debate

Political crisis in United Kingdom ahead of Brexit debate

The UK government may have broken Parliamentary rules by not publishing Brexit legal advice, the Commons Speaker has said.

Theresa May's Government is to release its legal advice on the Brexit deal on Wednesday, after being found in contempt of Parliament over its refusal to publish it in full.

The move came after opposition parties led by Labour and the Democratic Unionist Party attacked ministers for publishing only a summary of the Brexit advice, despite a vote on November 13 demanding full publication.

Only hours before the vote, Mrs May had told Cabinet that "candid" legal advice given to ministers must remain confidential, despite a Commons vote last month demanding its publication in "final and full" form.

In an address to parliament on Monday, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox claimed publishing the full extent of legal advice he provided the government over the deal would be "contrary to the public interest".

The issue would be taken up again in Parliament on Tuesday, Bercow said.

"It's a historic first for government ministers to be found in contempt", Labour's Brexit spokesman Kier Starmer told the BBC.

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

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons.

In practice, it means that should Parliament refuse to accept the prime minister's deal, MPs could instruct her to extend negotiations, hold another referendum, or pursue a different sort of Brexit like a softer, Norway-style exit.

An attempt by ministers to refer the whole issue to a committee of MPs was earlier defeated earlier by four votes. "Over 100 Conservative MPs have said they are not going to back the deal, the Labour Party have said they are not going to back the deal".

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.

Leadsom said: "We've tested the opinion of the House twice on this very serious subject". He added: "Theresa May's majority has evaporated, and the credibility of her deal is evaporating with it".

May faces a daunting struggle to secure parliament's approval in the key vote on December 11 after her plan was criticised by Brexit supporters and opponents alike.

Advocate general Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona's non-binding opinion said Article 50 allows the "unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the European Union, until such time as the Withdrawal Agreement is formally concluded".

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

Mrs May said Britain will leave regardless of any future decision by the EU's top court and that the choice is between her deal or no deal.

She says her deal will maintain close economic ties with the European Union while enabling Britain to trade more freely with the rest of the world and meet voters' demands to reduce immigration.

If she loses, May could call for a second vote.

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