Published: Wed, December 05, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Pound drops to 2017 lows after government contempt vote

Pound drops to 2017 lows after government contempt vote

The UK government may have broken Parliamentary rules by not publishing Brexit legal advice, the Commons Speaker has said.

Theresa May insisted that "candid" legal advice given to ministers should remain confidential as the Government faced being found in contempt of Parliament for refusing to publish the guidance on the Brexit deal.

The contempt of parliament motion tabled by Labour and other opposition parties, including PM Theresa May's confidence and supply partners, the DUP, was passed by 311 votes to 293.

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 third defeat came when Tory former minister Dominic Grieve's amendment, which aims to give MPs a greater say should the Brexit deal be defeated on December 11, was approved by 321 votes to 299, majority 22.

"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.

"By treating Parliament with contempt, the Government has proved it has lost its majority and the respect of the House", Sir Keir said.

The prime minister needs roughly 320 votes in the House of Commons to secure the approval of her deal.

And MPs backed a motion giving the Commons a direct say in what happens if her deal is rejected next Tuesday.

British lawmakers held up a momentous Brexit debate on Tuesday (Dec 4), accusing the government of contempt over its handling of the withdrawal agreement, as a top European Union legal opinion stated Britain could even call off its departure from the bloc altogether.

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"The government is upholding an important point of principle", the prime minister's spokesman said.

Downing Street sources attempted to play down the mauling by MPs, insisting that while "everybody knows the parliamentary arithmetic" - the loss of Mrs May's majority as a result of the disastrous 2017 election gamble - the Government had still won the "overwhelming majority" of votes since then.

"We have tested the opinion of the House twice on this very serious subject", Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the House of Commons said after the vote took place.

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

May's Northern Irish allies, the Democratic Unionist Party, which prop up her minority government, went further.

The advice from the ECJ advocate general - not binding but usually heeded by the court - suggested to some lawmakers that revoking Britain's "Article 50" divorce notice was an option.

In the most extreme no-deal scenario, shopping bills could rise by up to 10% but even in an orderly no-deal withdrawal, with a transition period, grocery prices could rise by 6%, he said.

"We should not let the search for a ideal Brexit prevent a good Brexit which delivers on the wishes of the British people". Moreover, the European Union has said it will not renegotiate the deal.

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

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