Opposition launches Brexit contempt of parliament challenge

Deputy Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Nigel Dodds speaks during the second day of the DUP party conference on November 24, 2018 in Belfast | Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Opposition launches Brexit contempt of parliament challenge

MPs want to force Theresa May’s government to release confidential legal advice on the Brexit deal.


12/3/18, 8:48 PM CET

Updated 12/3/18, 11:42 PM CET

LONDON — Theresa May’s Northern Irish backers the Democratic Unionist Party joined opposition MPs in questioning whether ministers should be held in contempt of parliament after the government refused to publish its legal advice on Brexit.

Nigel Dodds, the Westminster leader of the DUP, whose 10 MPs prop up May’s government, co-signed a letter calling for House of Commons Speaker John Bercow to allow MPs to “debate and consider this matter of contempt at the earliest opportunity.”

Contempt of parliament is an offense which has in the past seen MPs suspended, or in the most extreme cases expelled.

On Monday evening, Bercow, the highest authority in the House of Commons, told MPs he believes there is “an arguable case that a contempt has been committed.” He said that a motion saying that the government has held parliament in contempt would be the first item for debate on the House of Commons’ agenda on Tuesday.

MPs passed a motion in November calling on the government to publish “the final and full legal advice provided by the Attorney General” on the Withdrawal Agreement and the legal guarantee, known as the backstop, for avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

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