May’s government loses contempt vote over Brexit legal advice

LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May’s government was found in contempt of parliament on Tuesday for refusing to release its full legal advice on Brexit, underlining the depth of opposition among MPs to her deal on leaving the European Union.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

The row threatened to overshadow the start of five days of debate in parliament on May’s Brexit deal ahead of a crucial vote on Dec. 11, when MPs will be asked to approve it.

Opposition parties and the small Northern Irish party that props up May’s minority government are furious that it only provided an outline of the legal basis for its Brexit deal after parliament voted to be given the full advice.

They put forward a motion, which was backed by 311-293 in a vote on Tuesday, that found ministers in contempt of parliament and ordered the immediate publication of the advice.

“Today’s finding of contempt is a badge of shame for this government. It is of huge constitutional and political significance,” Keir Starmer, the opposition Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman, said after the vote. “Never before has the House of Commons found ministers in contempt of parliament.”

The sanctions ultimately available include suspending a lawmaker, most likely Attorney G

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