Published: Tue, December 04, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

John Bercow: 'Arguable case' Government committed contempt of Parliament

John Bercow: 'Arguable case' Government committed contempt of Parliament

In the wake of the vote, Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, said the government would provide the full advice to the Parliament on Wednesday, despite earlier arguing it would imperil its negotiating position in Brussels in future discussions on the post-Brexit relationship and trade deal.

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

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said Tuesday's vote had "huge constitutional and political significance" and it was "unprecedented" for ministers to have been found in contempt.

"The Prime Minister can't keep pushing Parliament away or avoiding responsible scrutiny".

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 "final and full" advice will be released tomorrow.

It comes as reports have emerged that Government whips have been holding conversations about pulling the all important vote due to be held next Tuesday.

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"But the reality remains that we have an unsatisfactory procedure to resolve differences of opinion in this House, if and obviously, it's an if, we come to a point where the Government does not succeed on its motion and the opportunity exists this afternoon to cure that anomaly". It is the first time a government has ever been held in contempt by parliament, and unquestionably further weakens the authority of Theresa May.

But the deal still needs to be passed by a majority of British MPs in Parliament.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake called for the suspension of Geoffrey Cox if MPs support the motion.

"And it's for that reason that I put forward this amendment which would in very simple terms cure that problem and provide reassurance even before we start on these really important debates, that whatever the outcome next week we have a means of continuing the debate thereafter if we need to in a way that must be in conformity with what any right-thinking member of this House would think to be the proper procedure and process to adopt".

The government lost the critical vote by 311 votes to 293, a stinging defeat for May at the beginning of a week of votes on issues related to Brexit.

The opposition Labour Party, which pushed for the vote, was jubilant.

Sky sources have been told that Mr Cox's legal advice concludes that the European Court of Justice would not in practice force the United Kingdom to stay in the backstop against its will if a case was brought by the government.

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