British Prime Minister Theresa May has suffered humiliating defeats at parliament while beginning debate on her plans to leave the European Union before the main vote on Dec. 11.
The start of the five-day debate on May’s Brexit deal was delayed by several hours on Tuesday as MPs passed a historic motion finding the government in contempt of parliament by refusing to publish a full legal advice on the deal.
The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, described the setback a “badge of shame” for May’s government.
“By treating parliament with contempt, the government has proved it has lost its majority and the respect of the house. The prime minister can’t keep pushing parliament away or avoiding responsible scrutiny,” Starmer said.
In addition, a group of her own Conservative Party lawmakers managed to win a challenge that allows the handing of more power to the House of Commons if the Brexit deal is voted down. That will make it harder for Britain to leave the bloc without a deal.
In Brussels, a few hours earlier, the European Court of Justice had indicated it would rule that Britain could unilaterally revoke Article 50 if it wanted to.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told parliament that unless May gets a better deal, she will have to step aside.
“We still don’t know what our long term relationship with Europe would look like and that’s why so many MPs (Members of Parliament) across parliament are not willing to vote for this blindfold Brexit and take a leap in the dark about Britain’s future.”
May has repeatedly reiterated that if the deal is rejected, Britain’s economy will face a disastrous scenario of leaving the EU with no deal.
The government has also made it clear that Britain will leave the EU on March 29, 2019 regardless of the votes in Parliament, saying there would be no chance for a renegotiation of the Brexit agreement.
On Tuesday, she told parliament, “We need to deliver a Brexit that respects the decision of the British people.
“This argument has gone on long enough. It is corrosive to our politics and life depends on compromise.”