Humiliation for Theresa May as Brexit talks descend into total chaos

Theresa May’s authority is in shreds after a humiliating hat-trick of defeats in 63 minutes.

It threw her Brexit plans into disarray and created further chaos.

Labour’s Ian Lavery said: “The Tory Government is in office but not in power. It’s clearer than ever May has lost the respect of Parliament and all authority.”

May is losing control of her Brexit strategy, Labour said yesterday as the Prime Minister suffered a triple blow in the Commons.

Following a day of high-stakes votes, ministers will be forced to publish the full legal advice on the PM’s Brexit deal after MPs found the government in contempt of Parliament for refusing to do so.

And MPs will get a greater say in what happens if her deal is defeated in a crunch vote next Tuesday.

Labour said Mrs May was “in office but not in power” as she suffered three setbacks in just over one hour:

  • 4.25pm: MPs vote by 311 to 307 to block a government bid to boot the legal advice into the long grass.
  • 4.41pm: 311 to 293, finding the Government in contempt of Parliament by refusing to reveal the advice.
  • 5.28pm: 321 to 299 for an amendment by Tory remainer Dominic Grieve, giving MPs a greater say in Brexit if the PM’s plan is defeated next week.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told MPs: “This Government is not taking back control, it is losing control.”

Labour chairman Ian Lavery told the Mirror: “The Tory Government has made history today for all the wrong reasons. It is on office but not in power. It’s clearer than ever that Theresa May has lost the respect of Parliament and all authority”.

The defeat on the Grieve amendment was the biggest blow to the PM and will ensure Parliament can seize control of what happens in the crucial days after the vote.

The vote won the backing of 26 remainer Tory MPs, including six former cabinet ministers: Ken Clarke, Michael Fallon, Justine Greening, Nicky Morgan, Dominic Grieve and Damian Green – the latter a personal disappointment to the PM as he was her former deputy.

MPs are concerned about Mrs May’s Plan B, with her chances of winning next week’s “meaningful” vote looking highly unlikely.

Mr Grieve wants to make sure that when ministers come back to the Commons to set out their next steps, they can be amended by MPs.

He said: “MPs are tonight starting the process of taking back control. No longer must the will of Parliament – reflecting the will of the people – be diminished. More and more MPs are concluding that the Government’s proposed deal is not what was promised two years ago.

“It’s a much worse deal than the one we’ve already got in the EU and, if approved, would mean Brexit goes on forever because it leaves all the big questions unanswered.”

However, Brexit-supporting MPs claimed they were relaxed about the proposal as it would not force the government’s hand. Former Brexit minister Steve Baker, said: “Whatever the outcome of the amendment, it is not legally binding on the PM”.

No10 sources suggested otherwise.

The row over whether ministers should publish the full legal advice culminated in the historic and unprecedented vote in which MPs found the government in contempt.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox published a summary of his advice on Monday but claimed full publication would not be in the national interest. But the Commons defeat means the full advice will have to be made public, possibly as early as today – including the view the UK would be permanently stuck in the Northern Ireland backstop. The nine DUP MPs who voted for the Labour motion along with two Tories were enough to crush the PM’s fragile majority.

Opening five days of debate on her Brexit plans, Mrs May told MPs: “There are some who’d prefer a closer relationship with the EU than the one I’m proposing, indeed who would prefer the relationship that we currently have and want another referendum.

“But we will not settle this issue and bring our country together that way. I ask them to think what it would say to the 52% who came out to vote Leave in many cases for the first time in decades if their decision were ignored.”

She added: “There are others who’d prefer a more distant relationship than the one I’m proposing. But we won’t settle this issue and bring our country together if in delivering Brexit we don’t protect the trade and security cooperation on which so many jobs and lives depend, completely ignoring the views of the 48%.”

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told MPs: “I really can’t believe there is a single member of this House who sincerely believes this deal is a good deal.”

European Court of Justice legal advisor Campos Sanchez-Bordona said the UK could abandon Brexit without the agreement of other EU states.

At the end of her most humiliating day since she lost her majority at the general election, Mrs May urged MPs to compromise on their beliefs.

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