Opposition Labour piles pressure on British PM

Mr Keir Starmer, Labour's Brexit spokesman, says the opposition party would start contempt proceedings against the government if it did not publish its legal advice on the deal.
Mr Keir Starmer, Labour's Brexit spokesman, says the opposition party would start contempt proceedings against the government if it did not publish its legal advice on the deal.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Britain's main opposition Labour Party has said that it would press for contempt proceedings against the government if Prime Minister Theresa May fails to produce the full legal advice she has received on her Brexit deal.

The threat is yet another hurdle for Mrs May to clear ahead of the Dec 11 vote in Parliament on her deal for Britain's exit from the EU.

Mrs May often says her deal will protect jobs and end free movement of persons. She hopes her argument that it is the only feasible deal with the EU and that voting it down will raise the risks of a "no-deal" Brexit or no Brexit at all will concentrate minds.

Labour has said it will vote against the deal. On Sunday, its Brexit spokesman, Mr Keir Starmer, increased the pressure on Mrs May by saying the party would start contempt proceedings against the government if it did not publish its legal advice.

He also said Labour would seek a vote of no confidence in the government if she lost the vote, a widely forecast outcome. "In nine days' time, Parliament has got to take probably the most important decision it has taken for a generation and it's obviously important that we know the full legal implications of what the Prime Minister wants us to sign up to," Mr Starmer said.

"I don't want to go down this path... (but) if they don't produce it... then we will start contempt proceedings. This would be a collision course between the government and Parliament," he told Sky News.

British media said the contempt move was also supported by the small Northern Irish party which props up Mrs May's minority government, underlining her precarious position in Parliament.

The government has promised to give lawmakers access to the legal analysis of the Brexit deal, and Attorney-General Geoffrey Cox was slated to make a statement to Parliament yesterday.

Opposition parties suspected it would only offer a summary of that advice.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2018, with the headline 'Opposition Labour piles pressure on British PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe