Theresa May hours away from extraordinary vote over Brexit legal advice

REX Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets British Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 Summit G20 Summit Buenos Aires Argentina- 01 Dec 2018

Britain's ministers have been forced to back down on Tuesday after parliament found the government was contempt over an order to publish full legal advice on prime minister Theresa May's Brexit deal with the EU.

Speaker John Bercow gave the green light to a debate and vote on the motion of contempt after a demand from the six opposition parties.

He argued that it would not be "in the national interest" to publish his advice in full as it would break a longstanding convention that law officers' advice to ministers is confidential.

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.

The vote on the motion to find ministers in contempt of parliament is said to be a precursor on how MPs will vote on the government's Brexit deal next week.

A judge in the European Union ruled on Tuesday before this vote took place that the United Kingdom could cancel its Brexit plans without getting the approval of all the remaining EU member states.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: "MPs expect the publication of the full legal Brexit advice before the debates on the withdrawal deal begin".

"Never before has the House of Commons found Ministers in contempt of Parliament".

The opposition Labour Party said May needed to get a better deal or step aside and let them govern.

In response, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said she "would respond" on Wednesday but would ask the Commons Privileges Committee to consider the constitutional repercussions.

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This could open the door for the Commons to throw its weight behind a Norway-style soft Brexit, or even a second European Union referendum, though prominent Leave-backing MPs questioned whether any such vote would be binding on ministers.

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.

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.

Politicians on both sides of Britain's European Union membership debate oppose the agreement - pro-Brexit legislators because it keeps Britain bound closely to the European Union, and pro-EU politicians because it erects barriers between the United Kingdom and its biggest trading partner.

If she loses, May could call for a second vote.

It was always a nonsense that MPs, after the "meaningful vote", would be somehow gagged from expressing a view.

Such motions could be used to show a clear majority against going ahead with Brexit on March 29, and mandating the Government to bring forward the necessary regulation to defer the date.

The amendment will have to be considered before Theresa May can open five days of historic debate on her painstakingly-negotiated Brexit deal.

"The Government must not be allowed to use this chaotic situation to take focus away from the mess they are making of Brexit". Soft-liners are against the deal because they believe that it won't secure the closest possible British-EU political and economic ties.

"I never said this deal was ideal, it was never going to be".

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