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Brexit: Government faces contempt of parliament vote over legal advice

Brexit: Government faces contempt of parliament vote over legal advice

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

If the motion is passed government ministers would be found in contempt of parliament and forced to publish the advice in full.

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.

Never before has the full legal advice of any attorney general been published in its entirety.

MPs had earlier rejected a government amendment to the motion, which Labour argued sought to kick the issue into the "long grass" until after the vote on the Brexit deal, by 311 votes to 307, majority four.

Leadsom then introduced a bill on the Brexit deal, which was immediately challenged with an amendment that would make the Parliament supreme in deciding the next move if the deal is voted down next week - as many anticipate it will be.

Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said: "This House has now spoken and it's of huge constitutional and political significance".

British Prime Minister Theresa May's government fought on Monday to defend its Brexit deal by outlining the legal basis for Parliament to support its plan to leave the European Union, but instead seemed to fan the flames of rebellion.

Responding to the result, the ruling Conservative Party's Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom said the government meant to publish the advice on Wednesday.

Before the debate, May's government faces another showdown with lawmakers over legal advice about the Brexit deal.

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Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons.

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.

But he was also there not just to defend the prime minister, but to try and sell her deal to recalcitrant Conservative MPs by attempting to reassure them that her Brexit compromise - despite having "unattractive, unsatisfying elements" - was not going to trap the United Kingdom into a customs union with the EU forevermore.

If lawmakers do not back her deal, May says, they could open the door either to Britain falling out of the European Union without measures to soften the transition or to the possibility that Brexit does not happen.

This is an extraordinary development, but these proceedings will pale into insignificance next week should Mrs May lose the meaningful vote.

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

"This is the deal that delivers for the British people". "That is the nature of a negotiation", she said.

CRUCIAL VOTE The crucial December 11 vote is likely to decide the shape of Brexit.

With just seven days left to try to turn the overwhelming opposition for her Brexit deal around, the prime minister deployed her attorney general - an ardent Eurosceptic - to the dispatch box to try to sell her deal.

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