Government officials may be forced to hand over reams of private and personal communications, after MPs voted to back a motion put forward by Dominic Grieve tonight.
Grieve, a former attorney general and bete noire for Number 10, told colleagues he had deployed the highly unusual method to seize texts, WhatsApp messages and emails to determine the reasons for proroguing parliament.
The motion also relates to Yellowhammer documents, which set out the government’s impact assessments.
MPs voted for the motion with a majority of nine – 311 votes to 302.
Nine special advisers, including the Prime Minister’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings and his director of communications Lee Cain, were named in the motion submitted by Grieve this morning.
The MP for Beaconsfield told colleagues he felt compelled to do so after concluding early on “that the government was not giving a consistent account of their reasons” for proroguing.
“I started to be given information from public officials informing me that they believed that the handling of this matters smacked of scandal,” he added.
Grieve said he believed there was “a concerted get-together within government to try to ensure this House could be prevented from taking action to stop a no-deal Brexit, and that the origins of that long pre-date the first time the government mentioned prorogation.”
He was granted the opportunity to put it forward as an emergency debate by speaker John Bercow, who announced he will be quitting this afternoon.
The material is meant to be handed over by 11 September. But parliament is due to be prorogued at close of business tonight.
During the debate Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general, suggested that the government would not have the legal power to enforce the release of the messages even if it wanted to comply.
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