A contemptible government?

For the first time a government has been found in contempt of parliament


Government found in contempt of parliament for first time in history

Back my deal to avoid no deal, May tells critics

The PM attacks Labour for trying to force a general election, saying that Jeremy Corbyn should focus on "delivering on the vote of the British people" in the 2016 referendum.

She also warns that MPs who vote down her deal will "put this country on course for no deal".

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With the government in contempt is Theresa May's time almost over?

By Joe Harker

Most governments and prime ministers would have come to an end before this, perhaps months or even over a year ago in a time when politics was still guided by some semblance of reason. Now the government has been found to be in contempt of parliament, the first time this has happened in British political history, due to its refusal to release the legal advice on Brexit.

Since losing her majority at the 2017 general election the primary goal of Theresa May and her government has been existence. They have served up a succession of deflections, half truths and outright lies designed to endure the questions, interviews and events that are routine business for governments and pretend things are all right. Just keep talking, lie if necessary, and hang onto the reins of power as long as possible.

The government's strategy on Brexit has been to refuse to publish information, question the accuracy of reports from your own treasury and repeat slogans.

This is the information age, in the time it takes for claims to be fact checked and lies to be caught out something else has become the main story and past deceptions are swept out of sight as something new grabs the headlines. The overwhelming flow of information makes it easy to outright lie to the public and have them forget it soon enough. For a government that lurches from one crisis to another it is a handy tool that distracts from just how bad things are.

Not only was it bad enough for Theresa May to lose the contempt vote, her government also lost votes on what will happen if her Brexit deal fails to pass through the House of Commons. MPs will now be able to vote on what they want the government to do if the prime minister's deal falls, whereas the government wished them not to have any influence in the matter.

Cabinet minister Liam Fox argued that parliament is trying to steal Brexit from the people as it could suggest another referendum if the prime minister's deal fails. Many MPs were pro Remain at the referendum and Fox worries that parliament might try to stop Brexit but there is little other option than to give parliament a proper say in the matter when the government have demonstrated they cannot be trusted with the process.

They have lied and obfuscated, they have been found in contempt of parliament for not publishing legal advice. This government has proven they cannot be trusted to be the sole custodians of Brexit, they certainly cannot have any legitimate claim to cry foul play on the part of parliament when they have acted in such a contemptible manner.

Having now published the legal advice on Brexit it has revealed a "central weakness" in May's deal, namely that the backstop could "endure indefinitely". The government would lack the legal power to withdraw from the backstop without the approval of the EU. It confirms what many MPs feared about May's deal, that the UK may get permanently stuck in the backstop. It is not what anyone voted for in the Referendum.

Perhaps Theresa May's time as prime minister is nearing an end, but she has become accustomed to doing whatever it takes to survive. While it may seem like an admirable trait it robs the UK of an effective government or a proper resolution to Brexit.

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