Since June 23, 2016 when the referendum took place, the biggest political story in the U.K. has been “Brexit.” There has been much coverage of the ongoing negotiations and reactions in the U.K. to their leaving the European Union.
This has been a very difficult time in U.K. politics. The Government’s own (newly appointed) Brexit Minister got the exit dates wrong yesterday in the Houses of Parliament.
Gaffe on UK exit date by minister.
New #Brexit Secretary @stephenbarclay was left red-faced when he appeared not to know when the UK is leaving the EU. He said #Britain was quitting the EU on March 31, rather than the actual date of March 29 🙄 pic.twitter.com/cbsqkdkBdC
— David&Carlo 👨❤️👨 (@cordeiro876) December 4, 2018
This doesn’t bode well for anyone else trying to gain any sort of comprehensive understanding of the issue.
On Nov. 13, Labour tabled a motion demanding full disclosure of legal advice to Parliament. The Conservatives abstained, and it was carried.
In response, the Conservatives chose not to publish the advice given, but allowed a presentation to the House.
Not about Brexit
Yesterday, in Parliament, the Speaker of the House allowed the Labour and also the Democratic Union Party along with two other parties to submit an emergency motion. This motion was that the government was holding Parliament in contempt as it had not made the legal advice given to the government available to members of the House.
This motion will be voted on before the five day Brexit deal debate can take place.
The possible repercussions
Labour has brought this to force the Conservative government into disclosure, and no specific penalty has been asked for. The Conservatives, in response, are calling a three-line whip – to ensure that all of their available members are there to vote and defend the government’s decision not to disclose the legal advice given.
The most likely outcome will be that a senior Conservative minister will be suspended from the House immediately before the debate over Brexit takes place.
The argument that the Government is using – that legal advice is privileged – does not really hold here according to the Members of Parliament, as they feel that prior to making a decision they should have the benefit of the advice available to them.
This issue has been largely ignored by a U.K. population who are largely tired of reading about Brexit. But it will have huge ramifications for both the process of the U.K. leaving the E.U., and also for the current Conservative government and the stability of Parliament itself.