Pro-EU demonstrators protest in London on December 3, 2018 | Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images
UK government forced by MPs to release Brexit legal advice
Labour’s Keir Starmer says vote to hold the government in contempt of parliament is a ‘badge of shame’ for ministers.
Updated 12/4/18, 11:12 PM CET
LONDON — MPs in Westminster have voted to hold the U.K. government “in contempt of parliament” for refusing to release key legal advice on Brexit.
The House of Commons voted 311 to 293 in favor of the contempt motion, which was put forward by opposition parties after the government refused a parliamentary request to publish the full legal advice relating to the Withdrawal Agreement and the backstop legal guarantee for avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.
The vote was swiftly followed by another government defeat on a motion that would hand more power to MPs in the coming weeks as they consider May’s Brexit deal.
The back-to-back loses come as a major embarrassment for May’s government ahead of a critical vote on her Brexit deal next Tuesday. MPs voted minutes before the start of the five-day debate that will precede that vote.
They are also a blow to her authority, revealing the difficulty she faces in commanding a majority in the House of Commons. Her Northern Irish backers, the Democratic Unionist Party, joined opposition parties in backing the contempt motion.
Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer told the House of Commons: “Today’s finding of contempt is a badge of shame for this government.