Government must publish Brexit legal advice

Government must publish Brexit legal advice

British Prime Minister Theresa May's government fought on Monday to defend its Brexit deal by outlining the legal basis for Parliament to support its plan to leave the European Union, but instead seemed to fan the flames of rebellion.

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.

The Government faces censure for refusing to hand over the advice demanded by the House of Commons in a motion last month.

Opening five days of debate on the Brexit deal, May told Parliament that the British people had voted in 2016 to leave the European Union, and it was the "duty of this Parliament to deliver on the result" of the referendum.

Mrs May is due to kick off a marathon five-day debate on the terms of Brexit, culminating in a series of dramatic votes next Tuesday.

Theresa May's Government was found in contempt of Parliament as it suffered three Commons defeats in quick succession.

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

Opposition parties say Downing Street limited the amount of information they released about the legal advice they received over Theresa May's Brexit deal.

MPs backed a move that could put Parliament in the driving seat if the Brexit deal is rejected on December 11 by giving the Commons the power to amend a motion that Mrs May would be required to make within the following 21 days to set out the Government's next steps.

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The vote on the motion to find ministers in contempt of parliament is said to be a precursor on how MPs will vote on the government's Brexit deal next week.

The fate of those will determine if her Brexit deal succeeds, whether the United Kingdom could be headed for no deal, a second referendum, or even a general election. Pro-EU lawmakers and the DUP, which props up her government, say they will vote against, and the main opposition Labour Party says it will try to unseat her.

"We have listened carefully and in light of the expressed will of the House, we will publish the final and full advice provided by the attorney general to cabinet", Leadsom told parliament.

In response, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said she "would respond" on Wednesday but would ask the Commons Privileges Committee to consider the constitutional repercussions. Rejecting it would leave the United Kingdom facing the prospect of a chaotic "no-deal" Brexit, but May's chances of winning majority backing for the deal appear slim.

MPs' decisions over the next week would "set the course our country takes for decades to come", she said.

"I never said this deal was flawless, it was never going to be". Moreover, the European Union has said it will not renegotiate the deal.

In an opinion prepared for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Strasbourg, the advocate general said the United Kingdom did not need the approval of the 27 remaining EU member states to halt the two-year countdown triggered invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

But May's spokesman told reporters: "It does nothing in any event to change the clear position of the government that Article 50 is not going to be revoked".

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