Pound drops to 2017 lows after government contempt vote

Dec 05, 2018, 00:44
Pound drops to 2017 lows after government contempt vote

Labour had accused ministers of "wilfully refusing to comply" with a binding Commons vote last month demanding they provided the attorney general's full and final advice.

The British government suffered a major blow on Tuesday when it lost a parliamentary vote on legal advice it received on the Brexit deal agreed with European Union leaders last month.

Responding to the government's defeat, Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, told MPs that the final and full legal advice would be published on Wednesday.

The House of Commons has found the government in contempt of parliament for not releasing its legal advice on Brexit despite being instructed to do so by MPs.

Britain's Parliament dealt Prime Minister Theresa May's government two bruising defeats on Tuesday, even before lawmakers began an epic debate that will decide the fate of May's European Union divorce deal - and of her political career.

The proceedings come ahead of five days of debate over May's Brexit deal, before a vote on whether to approve it on December 11.

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That result - which could prevent a "no deal" Brexit - saw the pound rise back to where it started the day, rounding off a rollercoaster day for sterling.

Defeat would leave the United Kingdom facing a chaotic "no-deal" Brexit on March 29 and could topple the prime minister, her government, or both.

May is due to address Parliament Wednesday, opening five days of debate before a December 11 vote on the divorce agreement.

The Conservative prime minister has consistently refused to say what she plans to do if - as widely predicted - the British Parliament rejects the deal her government reached with the EU.

The government suffered another blow just one hour later when parliament also voted in favour of an amendment that will give greater decision-making powers to MPs if, as expected, May's deal is voted down next week.

Labour Party Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer called the contempt finding "a badge of shame" for the government.

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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. He added: "Theresa May's majority has evaporated, and the credibility of her deal is evaporating with it".

He said the motion allowed those who shared his views to "crystallise and express" their opinions. "The Prime Minister can't keep pushing parliament away or avoiding responsible scrutiny".

She also said Parliament would be consulted on the government's negotiating mandate as it embarks on talks on the UK's future relationship with the EU.

"Because she stood up there at the G20 and told the world we're going to be signing trade deals with lots of you".

"If I had banged the table, walked out of the room and at the end of the process delivered the very same deal that is before us today some might say I'd done a better job". Her former Brexit minister David Davis said: "This is not Brexit". He asked that the matter be dealt with by next Tuesday, and Speaker Bercow agreed.

But the deal has done little more than boost opposition at the hardline edges of the debate.

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