Government contempt of parliament: What does contempt of Parliament mean for Theresa May?

Ministers must release the full legal advice with immediate effect after a motion was passed by 311 votes to 293 in the House of Commons today. It was called for by MPs from , the SNP, DUP and other opposition parties, protesting against Cabinet’s inability to fully publish advice given to them by Attorney General Geoffrey Cox. Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom confirmed the government will publish its full Brexit legal advice tomorrow after Labour questioned its release. Commons Speaker John Bercow also said it was “unimaginable” MPs would not get the information they need in order to make a final decision on in Tuesday’s meaningful vote

But now that ministers have been officially held in contempt, what does that mean in terms of what punishment they may face?

Right now, nobody really knows.

This is because no members of the Government has been found in contempt of Parliament until now.

Parliament defines contempt of privilege as “a term used to describe any act – or failure to act – that may prevent or hinder the work of either House of Parliament”.

Examples of this can include giving false evidence to a parliamentary committee or not disclosing information when required at testimony.

With the current unprecedented situation, it could be that an MP involved in tabling the motion could bring a sanction against the Government.

But there has so far been no mention of this – so it is a case of watching and waiting to see what happens now.

What is happening now?

Politicians are now the debating the EU exit deal in the first day of five talks.

Opening discussions, Prime Minister defended her deal saying the Brexit debate was “corrosive for our politics”.

She said: ”I don’t say that this deal is perfect. It was never going to be. That’s the nature of a negotiation.

“We will not bring our country together if we seek a relationship that gives everything to one side of the argument and nothing to the other.

“We should not let the search for the perfect Brexit prevent a good Brexit that delivers for the British people.”

But Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn tore into the Prime Minister’s “botched” Brexit deal saying it was the result of “two years of botched negotiations”.

The debate is expected to continue into the early hours of tomorrow.

Mrs May also suffered two other key defeats today, one being a motion asking the Committee of Privilege to decide if ministers were in contempt of Parliament or not.

The other defeat, tabled by Tory rebel Dominic Grieve, will now enable MPs to vote on amendments to the EU exit deal if it is defeated in Tuesday’s vote.


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