MPs find ministers in contempt of Parliament


The Prime Minister caved in moments after MPs decided her ministers were in "contempt" of Parliament.

Opposition parties and the small Northern Irish party that props up Theresa May's minority government were furious that the government had only provided an outline of the legal basis for its Brexit deal after Parliament voted to be given the full advice.

Tory MPs Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone backed the contempt motion, along with nine MPs from the DUP - who are supposed to be Mrs May's parliamentary allies.

Mrs May is due to kick off a marathon five-day debate on the terms of Brexit, culminating in a series of dramatic votes next Tuesday.

MPs will decide whether to reject the terms of the UK's withdrawal and future relations with the European Union on Tuesday 11 December.

May's government will now have to turn over the legal advice to Parliament.

The House of Commons lawmakers voted 311 to 293, backing the ruling that the government was in contempt of the Parliamentary procedure.

In another sign of the government's weakness, lawmakers also passed an amendment giving Parliament more say over the government's next steps if the divorce deal is rejected in a vote on December 11.

The U.K. ministers have been found in contempt of parliament over their failure to publish its full legal advice on the draft withdrawal agreement signed with the EU.

Following the votes, Mrs May officially opened five days of debate in parliament on her Brexit deal, ahead of a crucial vote on December 11th, when MPs will be asked to approve it.

Conservative House leader Andrea Leadsom told MPs that May's government had a right to receive confidential opinions that were unhampered by political considerations.

An attempt by ministers to refer the whole issue to a committee of MPs was earlier defeated earlier by four votes.

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The debate will be held after an intervention by House of Commons Speaker John Bercow.

"It's a historic first for government ministers to be found in contempt", Labour's Brexit spokesman Kier Starmer told the BBC.

And Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable said the government was "on the ropes".

Reflecting on her personal journey, May added: "I have spent almost two years negotiating this deal".

Theresa May said the United Kingdom would enjoy a better future outside the European Union.

If her deal falls in the "meaningful vote" next week, the PM has 21 calendar days to set out a statement on her next steps.

"MPs are tonight starting the process of taking back control".

British Prime Minister Theresa May is putting the fate of her Brexit deal in Parliament's hands, saying lawmakers must back it to deliver on voters' 2016 decision to leave the European Union and "create a new role for our country in the world".

She said her agreement respected the outcome of the 2016 referendum while protecting vital trading relations with the European Union and insisted the British public wanted closure on the issue.

She said it would not be in the "national interest" to block the Withdrawal Agreement, adding: "The only certainty would be uncertainty".

"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.