Government defeated three times in a row

The Government is in chaos. On Tuesday 4 December 2018, it was defeated three times in a row in the House of Commons.

The Government defied the Commons vote on Tuesday 13 November 2018 which resolved that the Government would make available its Brexit legal advice. Instead of publishing the advice, the Attorney General came to the House on Monday 3 December 2018 with a position statement.

On Tuesday 4 December 2018, the Labour Party brought the following contempt motion to the House: “That this House finds Ministers in contempt for their failure to comply with the requirements of the motion for return passed on 13 November 2018, to publish the final and full legal advice provided by the Attorney General to the Cabinet concerning the EU Withdrawal Agreement and the framework for the future relationship, and orders its immediate publication.”

A Government amendment to the motion sought to refer the issue to the Privileges Committee. This was defeated by: Ayes: 307 to Noes: 311.

The House then voted by 311 votes to 293 to find the Government in contempt. This shambolic Government will go down in history as the first Government to be held in contempt of Parliament. They could have initially provided the evidence, but regrettably chose to test the procedures of Parliament. The Privileges Committee will now decide which ministers should be held accountable and what sanction to apply, with options ranging from a reprimand to the more unlikely scenario of a Minister being suspended from the House.

Immediately afterwards I responded to the Business of the House motion on the European Union Withdrawal Act. I moved and supported the amendment which would ensure that Parliament would be given another meaningful say if the Government loses the vote on Tuesday 11 December 2018 and must come back to the House within 21 days to spell out its intentions. At every stage in this process, the Government have sought to prevent Parliament from having a meaningful say on how this country approaches the withdrawal from the EU. The Prime Minister has sought to side-line Parliament.

The amendment was agreed and the Government was defeated again. The result was: Ayes: 321 Noes: 299. This was an important victory. The House will rightly be able to amend any new motion and no-deal is not an option.