May fans flames of Brexit rebellion with legal advice

Anti-Brexit demonstrators wave flags and placards during a protest opposite the Houses of Parliament London

The UK government will publish in full legal advice it received regarding British Prime Minister Theresa May's widely criticised Brexit deal after it was found to be in contempt of parliament for failing to originally do so. The government said that in light of the vote it would publish the advice from Attorney General Geoffrey Cox on Wednesday.

The proceedings against the government for contempt of Parliament could potentially result in one or more ministers being suspended or expelled from the House of Commons.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today that the meaningful vote on the Brexit deal was "the single biggest decision the country will have taken in 50 years" and the Government's decision "impedes the house in the performance of its function".

Twenty-five Conservative MPs rebelled to support Tory former minister Dominic Grieve's amendment created to give Parliament a greater say on Brexit plans if the Government's EU Withdrawal Agreement is rejected next week, according to the division list.

Support for Theresa May's Brexit deal has faded since its high watermark last week.

The vote has little direct impact on the Brexit debate, but reflects mounting tension between the government and Parliament over the next steps in the U.K.'s exit.

"Article 50 TEU [Treaty of the European Union] allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU", Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona, an advocate general at the EU court in Luxembourg, said on Tuesday (4 December).

Grieve's move is the latest in a series of procedural wrangles that have characterised the fraught process of shepherding May's Brexit deal through a hung parliament.

Left-wing Labour said May's defeat next Tuesday would likely trigger a confidence vote to bring down her government.

But the debate was delayed as MPs voted on the contempt motion.

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The court's advocate general said that Article 50 "allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the European Union".

Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said: "This House has now spoken and it's of huge constitutional and political significance".

The reprimand, by 311 votes to 293, marks the first time a British government has been found in contempt of Parliament.

Leadsom said: "We've tested the opinion of the House twice on this very serious subject".

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has suffered three Brexit defeats in the Commons as she set out to sell her European Union deal to sceptical MPs.

One of those to back the motion, Oliver Letwin, said he believed the majority opinion of the Commons was that a no-deal exit would be "catastrophic" for the UK.

"I hope the government will now comply with that order", he added.

In the most extreme no-deal scenario, shopping bills could rise by up to 10% but even in an orderly no-deal withdrawal, with a transition period, grocery prices could rise by 6%, he said.

"This is the deal that delivers for the British people."

"It is a tribute to the perseverance of the Scottish parliamentarians involved that we will finally get clarity from the Court of Justice on this important question".

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