Boris Johnson’s Government has been told to publish communications connected to prorogation and no-deal Brexit planning after MPs supported an emergency Commons motion.
Former attorney general Dominic Grieve’s demand for all written and electronic contact about the temporary suspension of Parliament and Operation Yellowhammer documents since July 23 to be released was approved by 311 votes to 302, majority nine.
He used the parliamentary device of a humble address to the Queen to ask for the documents to be put before the Commons by ministers by no later than 11pm on Wednesday.
Mr Grieve, now sitting as an independent MP after losing his place in the Tories, said public officials had given him information relating to prorogation that informed him “they believed the handling of this matter smacked of scandal”.
He told MPs: “That places me in a difficulty because it is simply the information that I’ve been given and I want to make absolutely clear that I’m not in a position any more than I think any member in this House is to be able to ascertain if that information is mistaken or not.
“I can only say that I believe those sources to be reliable and also in my experience it is extraordinarily unusual that I should get such approaches with individuals expressing their disquiet about the handling of this matter and some of the underlying issues to which it could give rise.”
Mr Grieve’s motion asked for all correspondence and communications, whether formal or informal, including WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Facebook messenger, private email accounts, text messages, iMessage and official and personal mobile phones connected to the present Government since July 23 relating to prorogation, to be handed over.
It lists key individuals of Mr Johnson’s Government, including senior adviser Dominic Cummings and director of legislative affairs Nikki da Costa.
The demand came after documents released in a Scottish court showed Mr Johnson appeared to have approved the prorogation on August 15, despite subsequent official denials and the public announcement being made nearly two weeks later, on August 28.