DUP votes against government on contempt motion as Theresa May suffers three Brexit defeats
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DUP votes against government on contempt motion as Theresa May suffers three Brexit defeats

THE DUP has voted against the government on a motion that found ministers in contempt of parliament over the publication of Brexit legal advice.

It is the first time in history that a British government has been found in contempt of parliament.

MPs found ministers in contempt by 311 votes to 293 for only publishing a summary of the legal advice received by the government on Brexit.

The full legal advice is now set to be published on Wednesday.

The DUP, who usually vote in support of Theresa May’s Conservatives as part of their confidence and supply deal, opposed the government on the motion.

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'Own goal'

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s Brexit legal summary, published yesterday, indicated the government had ‘something to hide’.

He said: “Would the member agree with me that if the government and the Prime Minister is going around the country trying to convince the populace that this is a good deal, that this approach – this secret approach – only confirmed in people’s mind that there is something to hide?

“In fact, if anything, the government is scoring an own goal by refusing to publish this advice.”

The DUP also opposed an earlier government amendment to refer the contempt matter to the Committee of Privileges, which was defeated by 311 votes to 297.

This would have resulted in a delay in publishing the full legal advice.

The party did vote with the government against an amendment to allow Parliament a greater say on Brexit plans if May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement is rejected by MPs.

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However the vote, tabled by Conservative MP Dominic Grieve, passed by 321 votes to 299, making it three Brexit Commons defeats in one day for the embattled Prime Minister.

'Circus'

Despite the DUP’s opposition to the government, Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O’Neill accused the party of ignoring voters’ views on Brexit.

“The latest wranglings in Westminster are little more than theatre which is motivated by the civil war in the Tory party rather than the substantive issues,” she said.

“The DUP is playing a full role in this circus while ignoring the clear will of citizens and industry here who are opposed to Brexit and opposed to any attempt to renegotiate or dilute the Backstop as contained in the withdrawal agreement.”

She added: “And while they huff and puff in Westminster about Brexit, the DUP should reflect on the fact that they are the same party that continues to prop up the Tory Government and the savage austerity cuts which it is imposing on our public services.”

The Commons is set to vote on the EU Withdrawal Bill next Tuesday, December 11.

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