British MPs debate whether gov't breaks rule over legal advice on Brexit

Anti-Brexit supporter Steve Bray from south Wales protests outside the Houses of Parliament in London Thursday Nov. 15 2018

Anti-Brexit supporter Steve Bray from south Wales protests outside the Houses of Parliament in London Thursday Nov. 15 2018

Theresa May has made a last-ditch attempt to rally MPs behind her Brexit deal after suffering the historic humiliation of seeing her Government found in contempt of Parliament.

Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom announced the move after the Commons voted 311 votes to 293 to find ministers guilty of "contempt of parliament" for refusing to reveal the confidential advice.

At times, the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox looked overwhelmed with emotion as he listened to colleagues giving character references that might spring him from the contempt charge.

Following a formal request, Commons Speaker John Bercow said there had been an "arguable case that a contempt has been committed" and ruled MPs should debate the issue on Tuesday, right before the start of five days of debate on the Brexit deal.

She said: "We can shut our eyes to these hard truths and carry on debating between these extremes for months to come, or accept that the only solution that will endure is one that addresses the concerns of those who voted Leave, while reassuring those who voted Remain".

Her spokesman said the cabinet had discussed the motion on Tuesday but maintained that ministers must be able to obtain candid legal advice "without fear that it will be immediately published".

The vote marked the first time in history a United Kingdom government has been found in contempt of parliament.

"The Commons could proceed to pass motions of censure on individual ministers or of no confidence in the Government".

Advocate General Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona told the European Court of Justice that a British decision to revoke the countdown to departure would be legally valid.

Sterling rose on hopes that the court advice would make a disorderly "no-deal" Brexit next March less likely.

Before voting on the main motion, MPs voted down the government amendment by 311 votes to 307.

"We as 27 have a clear position on fair competition, on fish, and on the subject of the EU's regulatory autonomy, and that forms part of our position for the future relationship talks", said Macron.

Mrs May will tell MPs: "The British people want us to get on with a deal that honours the referendum and allows us to come together again as a country, whichever way we voted".

Labour demanded that it be done before next Tuesday when the vote on Mrs May's Brexit deal takes place.

In a speech repeatedly interrupted by MPs attacking her deal, the Prime Minister pledged to give Parliament and the devolved administrations a "greater and more formal role" in forthcoming negotiations with the European Union over trade - but declined to say whether MPs would get a vote on that deal.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said Tuesday that British consumers could see their weekly supermarket bills up by 10 percent in a worst-case Brexit scenario that involves a 25 percent fall in the value of the pound.

They may try to alter or delay Brexit, or derail it altogether, but her team is sticking to the script.

"If I had banged the table, walked out of the room and at the end of the process delivered the very same deal that is before us today some might say I'd done a better job".

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