Theresa May has suffered three Brexit defeats in the Commons as she set out to sell her EU deal to sceptical MPs.
Ministers have agreed to publish the government’s full legal advice on the deal after MPs found them in contempt of Parliament for issuing a summary.
And MPs backed calls for the Commons to have a direct say in what happens if the PM’s deal is rejected next Tuesday.
Mrs May said MPs had a duty to deliver on the 2016 Brexit vote and the deal on offer was an “honourable compromise”.
She was addressing the Commons at the start of a five-day debate on her proposed agreement on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal and future relations with the EU.
The agreement has been endorsed by EU leaders but must also be backed by the UK Parliament if it is to come into force. MPs will decide whether to reject or accept it on Tuesday 11 December.
Mrs May said Brexit divisions had become “corrosive” to UK politics and the public believed the issue had “gone on long enough” and must be resolved.
In other Brexit-related developments:
- Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has quit the party in protest at its direction
- The BBC said it had been unable to agree a format for a televised Brexit debate between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn following discussions with the parties
- The pound briefly fell to 18-month lows after the government lost the contempt vote
- Former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King likens Brexit deal to appeasement
- The UK should be able to unilaterally cancel its withdrawal from the EU, according to a top European law officer
Analysis: A terrible day for May but..
The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg
The prime minister has had a terrible day today as the government made history in two excruciating ways.
Ministers were found to be in contempt of Parliament – a very serious telling off – and the government had a hat trick of defeats – the first time since the 1970s that’s happened.
As you’d expect too, MP after MP after MP rose after Theresa May’s remarks to slam her deal as Tory divisions were played out on the green benches, with harsh words exchanged.
But in this topsy-turvy world, the overall outcome of the day for Mrs May’s big test a week tonight might have been not all bad…
What was the legal advice row?
By 311 votes to 293, the Commons supported a motion demanding full disclosure of the legal advice given to cabinet before the Brexit deal was agreed.
The move was backed by six opposition parties, including Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party which has a parliamentary pact with the Conservatives.
It came after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox published a summary of the advice on Monday and answered MPs questions for three hours – but argued that full publication would not be in the national interest.
- See how your MP voted on the contempt motion
- Kuenssberg: Parliament is ‘taking back control’
- Parliament Live: MPs debate Brexit deal
- BBC drops plans for Brexit TV debate
- Mark D’Arcy: What contempt challenge means
Labour had accused ministers of “wilfully refusing to comply” with a binding Commons vote last month demanding they provided the attorney general’s full and final advice.
After Labour demanded the advice should be released ahead of next Tuesday’s key vote on Mrs May’s deal, Commons Speaker John Bercow said it was “unimaginable” this would not happen.
In response, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom said she would “respond” on Wednesday, but would ask the Commons Privileges Committee to consider the constitutional repercussions.