- Theresa May suffered historic triple defeat in the House of Commons last night
- Commons leader confirmed the final legal advice on the deal would be released
- Andrea Leadsom said publishing the document set a dangerous preceden
- May will be back at the Despatch Box at noon for PMQs after bruising defeats
- Ministers hope another defeat by Tory Remain rebels could deter Brexiteers
- But another Leave MP Tory Mark Harper went public against the deal today
TIM SCULTHORPE, DEPUTY POLITICAL EDITOR FOR MAILONLINE|AIWA! NO!|Mrs Leadsom said ministers would follow the orders of Parliament but said it undermined ‘decades if not centuries of convention’.
Mrs Leadsom told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It was incredibly disappointing that the House of Commons decided to vote in effect to overturn what has been decades, if not centuries, of conventions whereby the law officer’s advice to Cabinet and to ministers are not even acknowledged, let alone published.What new powers do MPs now have?
Tory rebels led by Dominic Grieve won a major new power for MPs last night.
If and when Theresa May’s deal is defeated next week, the Government is required by law to show a plan for what happens next to MPs and hold a vote within 21 days.
This was supposed to be unamendable and a simple statement of what the Prime Minister would do now.
But Mr Grieve and another 25 Tory MPs forced a change in last night’s vote.
The next steps motion can now be re-written, meaning a majority of MPs could call for a second referendum or even a total halt to Brexit.
MPs could also order ministers to pursue a Plan B Brexit based on Norway’s relationship with the EU – a deal much closer than Mrs May’s but which has cross party support.
‘The Attorney General had come to the House for two-and-a-half hours, which is also unprecedented in these many years, to answer questions to give his very best legal advice.
‘He published a 48-page document that outlined all of the legal impact of the Withdrawal Agreement, so the vote yesterday of the House to require the specific legal advice to Cabinet we will comply with, but not without some regret.’
Mrs Leadsom continued: ‘Going forward, not only will Government ministers be very careful about what they ask law officers to give advice on, but law officers themselves will be very reluctant to give any advice to Government that they might then see published on the front pages of the newspapers, so it’s the principle of the thing.
‘And frankly I think any parliamentarian who wants at some point in the future to be in Government is going to live to regret their vote last night.’
Mrs Leadsom said the impact of Mr Grieve’s amendment could make a no deal Brexit both more and less likely, depending on how MPs react.
She said MPs should vote for Mrs May’s deal because while it was not perfect was the ‘best combination we are going to get’.
Admitting she was unhappy with the Irish border backstop, she insisted it was also ‘not in the EU’s interest’ for Britain to be locked into it indefinitely.’
Mrs May’s ailing hopes of winning the vote on Tuesday took another blow today as former chief whip Mark Harper (file image) joined the ranks of Tory MPs pledged to vote No
Last night, Mrs May tried to keep her plan alive with a rousing speech to the Commons, in which she warned ‘Brexit could be stopped’ entirely if it is voted down on Tuesday.
She acknowledged criticism of her ‘compromise’ deal, but said: ‘We should not let the search for the perfect Brexit prevent a good Brexit that delivers for the British people.
‘And we should not contemplate a course that fails to respect the result of the referendum, because it would decimate the trust of millions of people in our politics for a generation.’
Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general, led the rebellion which could effectively takes a no-deal exit off the table.
He claimed it could lead to a second referendum, adding: ‘MPs are tonight starting the process of taking back control.’
Downing Street must now hope that the threat of Parliament blocking a no-deal Brexit convinces some Eurosceptic opponents of her deal to change their minds before the meaningful vote.
However, a number of high profile, and previously loyal, Tory MPs rebelled during the series of defeats last night – including Michael Fallon and Damian Green.
And in a clear indication that the Prime Minister’s ‘confidence and supply’ deal with the DUP is fractured beyond repair, the Northern Irish party warned her it did not fear another election.
Downing Street had hoped the threat of a general election would bring the DUP to heel, because it could bring the pro-Nationalist Jeremy Corbyn to power.
But the party voted against the Government last night, with Nigel Dodds, the party’s Westminster leader, telling Mrs May his party was ready to spark another poll. He added: ‘I’m certain we will be returned in greater numbers.’