Brexit: May's government loses vote on contempt of parliament

UK told Brexit could be cancelled without approval of other members

UK 'may unilaterally withdraw from Brexit'

It came after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox published a summary of the advice on Monday and answered MPs questions for three hours - but said that full publication would not be in the national interest.

"That this House finds ministers in contempt for their failure to comply with the requirements of the motion for return passed on 13 November 2018, to publish the final and full legal advice provided by the attorney general to the cabinet concerning the European Union withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship, and orders its immediate publication".

In dramatic scenes at Westminster, the Government bowed to pressure to publish the "final and full" legal advice to Cabinet on the deal after MPs voted by 311 to 293 that its failure to do so amounted to contempt.

"The motion makes clear the government must now publish the attorney general's final legal advice in full", Starmer said.

Mr Grieve 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 vote marked the first time in history a United Kingdom government has been found in contempt of parliament.

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The court has also promised a "quick" ruling in the case, as British MPs prepare to vote on the UK-EU withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons on 11 December.

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

He told BBC Radio 4's Today that the meaningful vote on the Brexit deal was "the single biggest decision the country will have taken in 50 years" and the Government's decision "impedes the house in the performance of its function".

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.

The humiliating division came shortly before Prime Minister Theresa May was due to open a five-day debate on her deal, amid widespread expectation that her proposals are set for rejection by MPs.

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

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

In practice, it means that should Parliament refuse to accept the prime minister's deal, MPs could instruct her to extend negotiations, hold another referendum, or pursue a different sort of Brexit like a softer, Norway-style exit.

But it does highlight how little control May's fragile minority government has over MPs ahead of next Tuesday crucial vote.

Grieve's move is the latest in a series of procedural wrangles that have characterised the fraught process of shepherding May's Brexit deal through a hung parliament.

What was the legal advice row?

Lawmakers are due to hold five days of discussion before voting December 11 on whether to accept or reject the agreement, which lays out the terms of Britain's departure from the bloc on March 29 and sets the framework for future relations with the EU. 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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