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Brexit: Theresa May suffers 3 defeats in parliament but hobbles on

Prime Minister Theresa May insisted the current controversial withdrawal agreement is the right one that will usher the UK into a bright future.

world Updated: Dec 05, 2018 20:03 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Theresa May,Brexit,Parliament
Prime Minister Theresa May insisted the current controversial withdrawal agreement is the right one that will usher the UK into a bright future. (AFP)

Undeterred by three Brexit-related defeats in the House of Commons on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Theresa May insisted the current controversial withdrawal agreement is the right one that will usher the UK into a bright future.

May was greeted on Wednesday morning with headlines such as: ‘The day May lost control’ (The Daily Telegraph), ‘May suffers worst defeats by PM in Commons in 40 years’ (The Times), ‘Britain on a knife-edge: 63 minutes of Mayhem’ (Daily Mirror).

The three defeats relate to the government being forced to publish legal advice to the cabinet that it had withheld, the House voting that the minister had committed contempt of parliament by not publishing the advice, and the passing of an opposition-sponsored amendment that seeks larger role for parliament on the planning of Brexit.

The first day of the debate on the withdrawal agreement continued late into the night on Tuesday, and resumed on Wednesday afternoon. The House of Lords began its three-day debate. Voting is scheduled on Tuesday.

The government suffering three defeats in the House on Tuesday virtually confirms the expected result of the vote on December 11, since many ruling MPs and allies joined hands with the opposition. May losing the vote next Tuesday is likely to push the UK into more uncertainty.

The attorney-general’s legal advice now published reveals the possibility that the UK could be tied to EU rule indefinitely due to the arrangement for Northern Ireland envisaged in the withdrawal agreement, a possibility most MPs apprehended.

Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, said: “Having reviewed the attorney general’s legal advice, it’s obvious why this needed to be placed in the public domain. All week we have heard from government ministers that releasing this information could harm the national interest”.

“Nothing of the sort. All this advice reveals is the central weaknesses in the government’s deal. It is unthinkable that the government tried to keep this information from parliament — and indeed the public — before next week’s vote,” Starmer said.

First Published: Dec 05, 2018 20:03 IST