ibusinesslines.com December 10, 2018

Ministers to publish full Brexit legal advice

04 December 2018, 09:33 | Erica Roy

UK 'may unilaterally withdraw from Brexit'

UK told Brexit could be cancelled without approval of other members

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

The House of Commons lawmakers voted 311 to 293, backing the ruling that the government was in contempt of the Parliamentary procedure.

The government lost the critical vote by 311 votes to 293, a stinging defeat for May at the beginning of a week of votes on issues related to Brexit.

Mr Cox might be one of the country's most accomplished barristers, but he failed to convince sceptical MPs there was no public interest in publishing the government's full legal advice.

These concerns are not likely to derail the Brexit debates; however, the deal will probably not pass on its first reading based on Parliamentary arithmetic and May's minority conservative government.

If Mrs May loses the Brexit vote next Tuesday, the Government has 21 days to come back to the Commons to outline what happens next.

"We have therefore been left with no option but to write to the speaker of the House of Commons to ask him to launch proceedings of contempt", Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said.

This is a far greater concern for No 10 than sanctioning of the government or a minister for contempt, which helps explain why the prime minister has deployed leading Brexiteers Mr Cox and Michael Gove, the environment secretary, in the past two days to try and sell her imperfect deal to Brexiteer MPs.

Chris Leslie, the Labour backbencher backing the amendment, said: "MPs are going to gradually assert their rights - including the right to instruct the government in future stages".

Leaving the European Union without a deal would end more than 40 years of free trade and disrupt the flow of goods and services between Britain and the EU. See PA story POLITICS Brexit.

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.

May's has long warned lawmakers that if they do not back her deal, they could open the door to Britain falling out of the European Union without any measures deal to soften the transition, or that Brexit might not happen.

The pound had climbed back from fresh lows earlier in the day after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) suggested the United Kingdom could change its mind about Brexit by unilaterally withdrawing Article 50. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday December 3, 2018.

Opponents believe the advice will reveal Attorney General Geoffrey Cox's misgivings about the Brexit agreement.

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