MPs find ministers in contempt of Parliament

UK told Brexit could be cancelled without approval of other members

UK told Brexit could be cancelled without approval of other members

In a major blow to the government's Brexit plans, Conservative House leader Andrea Leadsom indicated the legal advice would be published on Wednesday.

The advocate general's opinion follows the news that MPs had submitted an emergency motion of contempt in response to the government's refusal to publish the full Brexit legal advice.

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

In November, the House of Commons unanimously passed a Labour motion calling for the release of any legal advice in full that had been provided to ministers on the proposed Withdrawal Agreement and framework for future EU-UK relationship.

The sanctions ultimately available include suspending a MP, most likely Attorney-General Geoffrey Cox.

The British government received a historic rebuke from lawmakers on Tuesday over its Brexit plans - an inauspicious sign for Prime Minister Theresa May as she opened an epic debate in Parliament that will decide the fate of her divorce deal with the European Union.

May is due to address Parliament Wednesday, opening five days of debate before a December 11 vote on the divorce agreement.

"It is of huge constitutional and political significance", Keir Starmer, the Opposition Labour Party's Brexit spokesman, said after the vote.

Their victory means that for the first time in history government ministers have been found guilty of the ancient offence, which involves any attempt to obstruct the working of parliament.

"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", excerpts of a speech devised for Parliament read.

He asked that the matter be dealt with by next Tuesday, and Speaker Bercow agreed.

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- How was the Government found to be in contempt?

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".

Many lawmakers were also angry over being shown what they described as a summary, not the full legal advice on May's Brexit deal which her government had seen.

Ms Haddon said the contempt motion was a "show of force" which could foreshadow both the final vote on the deal and the various amendments lawmakers are trying to attach to it.

But that was not true, given the House of Commons vote, the advocate general said.

But May has no intention of revoking the notice, her spokesman said, despite facing a daunting struggle to secure parliament's approval in the key vote on December 11 after her plan was criticised by Brexit supporters and opponents alike.

"This is a huge win for us, and a huge step forward from the highest court in the business, and confirms what we have been hoping for: that the United Kingdom can indeed change its mind on Brexit and revoke Article 50, unilaterally", he said.

The row is unlikely to have any impact on the course of Brexit.

"Without the Withdrawal Agreement, withdrawing with no deal, we would have stop-start production for weeks, possibly months", he said.

Hardline Conservative Brexiteers say May's compromise deal does not represent enough of a break with Brussels.

May's has long warned lawmakers that if they do not back her deal, they could open the door to Britain falling out of the European Union without any measures deal to soften the transition, or that Brexit might not happen.

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