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May faces contempt of parliament threat from Labour as Brexit advice leaks

03 December 2018

"We now need to back the Prime Minister and get the job done".

May began to answer: "I'm very clear that as Prime Minister I've got a duty to deliver..."

The Callaghan government, like Mrs May's, was a minority, and the current prime minister's chances of success would hinge on how the Democratic Unionist Party MPs vote.

May is facing an uphill struggle to get lawmakers to back her deal to keep close economic ties with the bloc, which she agreed with the European Union in November.

Labour say it is "inevitable" they would table a no-confidence motion against the Government if next week's Brexit vote falls - and try to force a general election.

If May were to lose that too - a result that would likely require some of her own lawmakers or parliamentary allies to vote against her - it would put the United Kingdom on course for another general election.

Morten Lund, Research Analyst at Nordea Markets, points out that on 11 December, the fate of Theresa May's Brexit deal will be decided and suggests that reaching a majority in parliament looks unlikely and if the vote fails, the door for adverse scenarios is wide open.

Theresa May will be exposed as a "liar" if the government releases its full legal advice on the Brexit withdrawal deal, DUP MP Sammy Wilson has declared. "But if she's lost a vote of this significance after two years of negotiation, then it is right that there should be a general election because, but for the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, the convention was always, if a government loses what's called a confidence vote - something of such significance - then that government has to go", Starmer said.

Andrea Leadsom parliament
Leading Brexiter Liam Fox urges support for May’s deal | Financial Times

Gove told the BBC Sunday that if ministers don't pass the bill "the alternatives are no deal or no Brexit".

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox will make a statement about it later.

Labour, obviously - but worryingly for ministers, Jeremy Corbyn's party says it has the support of the DUP, who prop up the government in the Commons, as well as the SNP and the Liberal Democrats.

This will put May in a hard position as she attempts to lobby Conservative Party votes for her bill, while potentially having to reveal compromises over the so-called Northern Ireland "backstop" position which could doom it in the eyes of pro-Brexit MPs.

For Mrs May and her negotiating partners in Brussels, the question is not - as one British newspaper put it - whether "a rump of [Tory] Brexiteers" could really pit themselves against the gravitas of French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel; rather it is whether that rump believe their own publicity about what a no-deal Brexit would mean.

According to the Sunday Times, Mr Cox told ministers in a letter the only way out of the Northern Irish "backstop" agreement would be to sign a new trade deal, a process which could take years. Opposition parties suspect it will only offer a summary of that advice.

Some opponents of Brexit have campaigned for a new referendum giving voters the option to reverse Britain's 2016 vote to leave the bloc, although the government says no such new vote will be held.

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Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations panel, said he would switch his vote and support the resolution. Several senators said they were angry about the absence of CIA Director Gina Haspel from the pre-vote briefing.

May faces contempt of parliament threat from Labour as Brexit advice leaks