From the Press Association’s Ian Jones
This is from ITV’s Paul Brand.
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, used his first question at PMQs to accuse May of “concealing the facts on her Brexit deal”. Referring to the full Brexit legal advice published today, he said:
Is it time that the prime minister took responsibility for concealing the facts on her Brexit deal from members in this House and the public? Will she take responsibility?
As the Press Association reports, May rejected the claim, and said the full legal advice they were forced to publish today was the same as the shortened statement the Government made earlier this week.
Blackford called that an “incredibly disappointing response”, and then went on to suggest May had “inadvertently” misled the House of Commons on the Irish backstop. He said:
Since the prime minister returned from Brussels she has been misleading the House, inadvertently or otherwise.
This prompted protests from Tories. Under Commons rules, MPs are not meant to accuse each other of saying things that are misleading.
John Bercow, the speaker, said there could be no “ambiguity” in Blackford’s suggestion that the PM had purposefully misled the House, which led the MP to alter his comment to saying the she had done it “perhaps inadvertently”. As the Press Association reports, this failed to dampen the Tory jeers, and Bercow asked him to “rephrase” his argument, but Blackford continued.
In reply, May said the copy of the full legal advice Blackford was holding was “no different” to the statement the attorney general made on Monday.
After PMQs Anna Soubry, the Tory MP, raises a point of order. She says that, when Bercow introduced Sammy Woodhouse, Tory MPs did not applaud even thought Labour MPs applauded because they were obeying the convention of the House that clapping is not allowed. It was not a sign of disrespect, she says.
The Labour MP Louise Haigh asks about Sammy Woodhouse, the rape victim who spoke publicly about how a council was trying to give parental rights to the rapist father. As John Bercow said at the beginning of the session, Woodhouse is in the public gallery.
May praises Woodhouse for speaking out, and urges Haigh to carry on pursuing this matter with the Ministry of Justice with view to getting the law changed.
Mark Francois, a Conservative, says the witch hunt against soldiers accused of crimes during the Troubles is getting worse. He says a Chelsea Pensioner is now being investigated. This nonsense must stop, he says.
May says there has been a “disproportionate emphasis” on investigating soldiers. She says she wants terrorist attacks to be investigated too. She says she is aware of the concerns about this, and the government is still considering the way forward.
Liz Saville Roberts, the Plaid Cymru leader at Westminster, says yesterday the Welsh assembly became the first parliament in the UK to reject May’s Brexit deal.
The DUP’s Gregory Campbell says today’s legal advice says the backstop will endure indefinitely. (Actually, it says it could endure indefinitely – see 11.55am). He asks why the UK has allowed the EU to use this as a negotiating ploy.
May says there would be various ways out of the backstop. But people need to know that there is a firm commitment to avoiding a hard border in Ireland.
Vicky Ford, a Conservative, asks May about the importance of early years education. May says the fact that 95% of providers are good or outstanding is to be welcomed.
Nick Smith, a Labour MP, says a constituent lost thousands of pounds through a rogue financial advice. The Financial Conduct Authority does not have enough power, he says.
May says the government will look at this.
Derek Thomas, a Conservative, asks May if she will seek talks with the EU to address the concerns of MPs if the Commons votes down her deal next week.
May says she is continuing to listen to colleagues and considering the way forward.
May says the backstop will not be attractive to the EU. The UK would not be paying the EU, and it would only have light-touch regulatory obligations. The EU will not want the UK to be in it for long.
Joanna Cherry, the SNP MP, says the government has lost three times in the article 50 case. Why has the government fought this so hard?
May says the government will not revoke article 50. If the advice of the advocate general is taken by the ECJ, the court will rule that the UK can revoke article 50. But that would not be to extend it. It would be to cancel Brexit. The government will not do that, she says.
Rachel Maclean, a Conservative, says voters are concerned about pot holes. Some £6m has been allocated for her constituency. How quickly can it be spent?
May says the money is available, and it should be spent now.