The Government became the first in British history to be found in contempt of Parliament after they deliberately tried to hide secret information about our EU exit deal.
A humiliated Theresa May lost the crunch vote this evening – with 311 voting for ministers to be held in contempt, and 293 against it.
Ministers will now try to get out of the sticky situation by releasing the legal documents in full tomorrow, it was revealed just seconds after the vote.
So far they have only released a summary of the legal advice – but MPs argued that everything needs to be out in the open for them to be able to vote properly.
The historic defeat saw some Tories vote with Labour, the DUP, SNP and the Lib Dems to force the documents to come out.
Government-backed plans to chuck out the contempt judgement and kick the matter into the long grass were thrown out by MPs – who rejected it by just FOUR votes.
Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said after tonight's defeat: "We have tested the opinion of the House twice on this very serious subject..we will publish the final and full advice provided by the Attorney General to Cabinet."
Ministers had argued that the secret notes had to stay closed to the public, and could put future trade talks at Brussels at risk.
But she will also refer the case to a powerful Commons committee to investigate too.
Keir Starmer MP, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary said this evening: "Today’s finding of contempt is a badge of shame for this Government.
Never before has the House of Commons found Ministers in contempt of Parliament. It is highly regrettable that the Government has let it come to this, but Ministers left the opposition with no option but to bring forward these proceedings."
Speaker John Bercow said last night he thought there was an “arguable case that a contempt has been committed” and allowed today's debate.
What is contempt of Parliament?
Contempt of Parliament is defined as any action taken by either a MP or Lord which obstructs or impedes either Parliament in the performance of its functions, or its Members or staff in the performance of their duties.
Examples of contempt include giving false evidence to a parliamentary committee, threatening a Member of Parliament, forgery of documents and attempting to bribe members.
The Commons has the power to order anyone who has committed contempt of Parliament to appear at the Bar of the House and to punish the offender.
If the offence has been committed by an MP he or she may be suspended or expelled.
Now an embarrassed Mrs May will come to the Commons to try and rally MPs around her hated Brexit deal.
Today five days of debate kicks off, and another crunch vote will come next Tuesday.
MPs were enraged yesterday when Attorney General Geoffrey Cox admitted the fall-back plan, which would keep Britain in a customs union, was indefinite.
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