May suffers historic defeat as Parliament takes back control of Brexit

SNP politicians couldn’t withhold their laughter

SNP politicians couldn’t withhold their laughter

Theresa May's Government is to release its legal advice on the Brexit deal on Wednesday, after being found in contempt of Parliament over its refusal to publish it in full.

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom confirmed the u-turn over the legal advice after MPs decided her ministers were in "contempt" of Parliament.

While ministers could refuse to accede to a motion of this kind, doing so would precipitate a full-blown constitutional crisis of which this week's row over publishing legal advice is just a foretaste.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox insisted the Government had "gone out of its way" to satisfy the terms of the humble address to the Queen passed by Parliament on November 13.

It means MPs will debate and vote on Tuesday on whether or not to refer the case to the Standards Committee.

"It is, I think unprecedented for this House to find government ministers in contempt".

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A cross-party motion was filed by a group of MPs, including Labour, DUP, Lib Dems, SNP.

He said: "Parliament has tonight asserted its sovereignty to ensure that amendments - such as for a People's Vote - can be made to any motion if or when the government's proposed deal for leaving the European Union has been defeated.

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

It comes after one of the EU's top law officers, the advocate general Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona, stated on Tuesday his advice to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that the United Kingdom could unilaterally stop Brexit by revoking Article 50.

She has toured the country and television studios to try to sell her deal, but a move to present her government's legal advice to Parliament seemed to backfire on Monday.

May, for her part, has said the full extent of advice received by her government over the Brexit deal is confidential under lawyer-client privilege. He added: "Theresa May's majority has evaporated, and the credibility of her deal is evaporating with it".

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Mrs May faces a battle to get her Brexit deal through Parliament and will begin the fight with a speech in the Commons at the start of five days of debate on the package.

A small number of Labour rebels could support her, but the party's official position is to vote against the deal.

Another interesting event today is the notion that Parliament can take control of the process.

While Tuesday's legal opinion from Mr Sanchez-Bordona, which is usually but not always followed by judges at the ECJ, gave a boost to the significant number of pro-European MPs who do not want to see Brexit happen at all.

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

Since most lawmakers oppose a no-deal Brexit, they could essentially take that option off the table.

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Speaking from the dispatch box, the Prime Minister appealed for those on all sides of the Brexit debate to back her deal, claiming it would protect United Kingdom jobs and security. They claim that London will be forced to follow European Union rules without having a say in them; they also say that the European Union common external tariff will prevent London from enforcing free trade agreements on goods with non-EU countries.

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