THERESA MAY suffered a major blow last night as her government was found in contempt of Parliament for keeping legal advice over her Brexit deal secret.
The advice will now be revealed today, despite attorney general Geoffrey Cox’s fears that publication is against the national interest, Commons leader Andrea Leadsom confirmed.
MPs voted by an emphatic 311 to 293 that the government was in contempt and should disclose details omitted from a previously released summary.
They also defied Mrs May by voting to give themselves the power to put forward their own plan B if she loses Tuesday’s crunch vote on the deal.
Labour’s Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said it was the first time a government had been found in contempt by Parliament and ministers should consider it a ‘badge of shame’.
He added: ‘It is highly regrettable that the government has let it come to this but ministers left the opposition with no option but to bring forward these proceedings. 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.’
The defeats came at the start of five days of debate over the deal forged with Brussels, leading up to the vote in which 100 Tory backbenchers have already vowed to oppose Mrs May. Mr Cox had argued it would be wrong to break a long-standing convention that advice provided to ministers by law officers is confidential.
But opponents accused him of trying to prevent them seizing on any legal warnings given over controversial aspects of the agreement, such as the Irish backstop.
The Commons first voted yesterday to reject a compromise that would have seen the dispute referred to a committee, before going on to find the government in contempt. MPs then backed a demand from Tory former attorney general Dominic Grieve (above) for them to be allowed to amend the deal.
Brussels insists that Britain must take or leave the agreement that is on the table.
But MPs will now have 21 days to come up with their own version if they vote it down. Both Mr Cox and Cabinet Office minister David Lidington could face official sanctions following the contempt ruling.
The DUP — which will vote against the deal — has said it will not return the £1billion Mrs May gave Northern Ireland when the party agreed last year to prop up her minority regime.
■ THE BBC has dropped plans for a TV debate between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May on Sunday after failing to agree on a format with the leaders. No.10 accused Mr Corbyn of ‘running scared’ but Labour invited Mrs May to ‘join us on ITV’. ITV said its ‘invitations remain open’.
Shoppers face no-deal 10% rise, says Carney
SHOPPING bills could soar by ten per cent after an extreme no-deal Brexit, Mark Carney told MPs. Even with a more orderly no-deal withdrawal, including a transition period, grocery prices could rise by six per cent and the cost of cars would go up, the Bank of England boss told the treasury select committee. He also defended the bank’s ‘worst case scenario’ forecasts, criticised by Brexiteers last week. They were ‘low probability events’ that had been published only at the committee’s request, he said.