Brexit update: contemptable behaviour all round
04 Dec 2018
As I type this, Kay Burley is live on Sky News facilitating some insult hurling between leave and remain protestors outside Parliament. “Nazi sympathisers!” some leave protestors shout at the remainers. “Brainwashed fools!” the remainers bellow back.
Naturally, the quality of debate inside the House of Commons is roughly on a par. Indeed, Parliament is currently debating whether the government is in contempt of Parliament. In other words, they are debating whether the government is ignoring the legal precedent and processes at the core of the UK’s democracy and refusing to be held to parliamentary sovereignty.
This followed a vote in the Commons that compelled the government to publish the full legal advice that the Attorney General. Instead of doing so, the government published an overview of the guidance and sent the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC MP, to answer questions on this paper.
This did not satisfy opposition parties and they submitted their motion to the Speaker that the government was holding Parliament in contempt. If the government is found guilty, it will once more be compelled to publish the paper.
This practice is so uncommon that several 16th-century punishments still apply to any MPs held in contempt of Parliament. One option is for officers of the House of Commons to forcibly remove a member and imprison them in the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster. While this is something we’d all like to see, it is more likely that the Attorney General or Government Ministers will be barred from the chamber and forced to resign their governmental posts.
Many are saying that this has potentially government-toppling consequences. Nonetheless, if the government has held on through the trials and tribulations of the last several months and years, it will likely not yield to being held in contempt.
This is likely because the house is about to go through five days of debate over the Withdrawal Agreement prior to the Commons’ vote on it on Tuesday night.
They will likely lose this vote, and a number of possibilities are then likely – the resignation of the Prime Minister; a motion of no-confidence in the government; the announcement of a general election; the announcement of a second referendum or; the collapse of civilisation into unbridled anarchy (my preferred option).
Whatever happens, we’ll continue to bring Brexit developments over the coming days. Keep checking back to hear the latest.