In an historic and unprecedented blow to the authority of a sitting prime minister, Britain’s House of Commons has found the nation’s government to be “in contempt of Parliament.” The formal censure came after Theresa May’s government refused to publish the internal legal advice it has received about Brexit. Acknowledging defeat, Andrea Leadsom, the Conservative leader of the House, accepted that the detailed legal findings would now have to be made public. The government had argued that to follow Parliament’s orders to do so would be against the national interest. The humiliating defeat came on the same day that the European Courts of Justice hinted that Britain may be able to cancel Brexit unilaterally by withdrawing Article 50, which would badly damage May’s domestic negotiating position. The May government suffered a third defeat on the same day—which may ultimately prove even more costly—when a rebel Conservative MP tabled an amendment that will allow opposition parties to overrule the prime minister on future Brexit policy if she loses a crucial vote next week.
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