May's government found in contempt of Parliament over Brexit legal advice

May's Brexit deal no deal or no Brexit

May's Brexit deal no deal or no Brexit

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has said there is an "arguable case" that the Government committed contempt of Parliament over the legal advice on Brexit.

A motion by the main opposition Labour Party to find the government in contempt of parliament for failing to publish the advice was passed by 311 MPs in favour to 293 against.

As he presented his motion to the House, Mr Grieve said: "The House will recall that back in last June issues arose about how the House should proceed in the event of the Government's motion being rejected".

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said Tuesday's vote had "huge constitutional and political significance" and it was "unprecedented" for ministers to have been found in contempt.

The Prime Minister will today kick off five days of debate on the withdrawal agreement, which she will claim "sets ourselves on course for a better future outside the EU".

But he refused to publish the legal advice in full, insisting "there is nothing to see here" and that doing so would not be in the "public interest".

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

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Labour demanded that it be done before next Tuesday when the vote on Mrs May's Brexit deal takes place.

"But the reality remains that we have an unsatisfactory procedure to resolve differences of opinion in this House, if and obviously, it's an if, we come to a point where the Government does not succeed on its motion and the opportunity exists this afternoon to cure that anomaly".

Twenty-five Conservative MPs rebelled to support Tory former minister Dominic Grieve's amendment created to give Parliament a greater say on Brexit plans if the Government's EU Withdrawal Agreement is rejected next week, according to the division list.

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

It also ordered the "immediate publication" of the legal advice. It was always a nonsense that MPs, after the "meaningful vote", would be somehow gagged from expressing a view.

An attempt by ministers to refer the whole issue, including the government's conduct, to the committee of MPs was earlier defeated by four votes.

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