The detail of the Fixed Term Parliament Act (FTPA) highlighted by the SKWAWKBOX and showing that MPs do not need a two-thirds majority to force a new general election has eventually moved into mainstream media coverage. As this blog showcased yesterday, the process by which this is likely to take place has been mapped out by Labour – a motion of no confidence in May’s government after the expected failure of her dismal Brexit ‘deal’.
Under the FTPA, if the government loses a vote of confidence, it has just fourteen days to come back and win a second confidence vote, or else a general election is automatically triggered. The Act requires only a simple majority of MPs – fifty percent plus one – in attendance to vote no confidence to defeat the government.
And the impetus toward May’s defeat on her Brexit deal and in a confidence vote has been strengthened this morning by May’s decision to ignore a parliamentary instruction to reveal the full legal advice she and her Cabinet have received on the consequences of her deal. May was so afraid that she would lose the Commons vote on the instruction last month that she repeated her recent tactic of simply running away and not even trying to defeat it, allowing it to pass without resistance.
Now May is trying to simply ignore a motion she didn’t even try to fight in a vote, a clear – and unprecedented – case of the government being in contempt of Parliament.
And Labour intends to press the issue and apply for a formal finding of contempt against May and her government, as Labour’s Shadow Solicitor General Nick Thomas-Symonds told the BBC this morning:
Contempt of Parliament is not a small matter. For non-MPs it can include imprisonment and for MPs can include expulsion – creating vacant seats and by-elections.
Yesterday, Labour’s Barry Gardiner told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that Labour intends to pursue contempt against the government if it refused to release the legal advice it has been ordered to. Today, the government did just that – and Labour’s Shadow Solicitor General has confirmed that the party intends to carry out its intention.
There are still obstacles to pass, but the country took a big step toward a new general election this morning.
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