Huddersfield MP accuses Attorney General of using 'barrister's bluster to obfuscate the truth' in furious Commons tirade

Northern opposition MPs landed stinging blows on the Government as Parliament sat for the first time since the Supreme Court ruled its prorogation had been unlawful.

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman launches a furious attack on Attorney General Geoffrey Cox. Photo: House of Commons

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox was called to answer an urgent question put forward by Joanna Cherry, SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, on the advice he gave on prorogation.

And anger boiled over as it was the first opportunity for MPs to challenge the Government in the House of Commons since September 9.

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Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield, landed one of the most furious attacks, accusing Mr Cox of “barrister's bluster”.

Mr Sheerman, an MP since 1979, said: “I came into the chamber today thinking I felt sorry for the Attorney General. But he has uttered no shame today, no shame at all.

“The fact is that this Government cynically manipulated the prorogation to shut down this house so it couldn't work as a democratically assembly. He knows that is the truth and to come here with his barrister's bluster to obfuscate the truth.

"For a man like him, a party like this, and a leader like this to talk about morals and morality is a disgrace.”

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Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman launches a furious attack on Attorney General Geoffrey Cox. Photo: House of Commons

Mr Sheerman was joined in his condemnation by Hilary Benn (Leeds Central), Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford), Angela Smith (Penistone and Stocksbridge) and Rachael Maskell (York Central).

Mr Benn asked if Mr Cox thought the Supreme Court judgement amounted to a "constitutional coup" - which had been suggested by the Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg to Cabinet colleagues.

Mr Cox said: "I do not believe that anybody does. These things can be said in the heat of rhetorical and poetical licence."

While Ms Cooper asked whether Mr Cox would the Government would agree with the content of the judgement, not just to abide by its conclusion, and whether he would accept it was wrong to prorogue Parliament for five weeks.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox in the House of Commons, London. Photo: House of Commons/PA Wire

Mr Cox dodged the question and said: “The Government will abide by its ruling and by the content and implication of its judgment.”

Ms Smith asked whether either the Cabinet or Chief Advisor Dominic Cummings had seen Mr Cox’s advice. Former Work and Pensions Minister Amber Rudd has claimed the advice had not been shared with the Cabinet.

But Mr Cox said: “The Honourable Lady will know that I cannot disclose whether I gave advice or the content of any such advice, it is covered in the Law Officers' Convention, the question of was the advice shown presumes there was advice.

“I wish I could answer the question, but I can’t.”

Mr Cox told MPs he will consider whether the public interest might require a "greater disclosure" of advice given to the Government on the prorogation.

But he railed against the "dead Parliament" claiming MPs had no "moral right" to remain in the Commons, try to "block 17.4 million people's votes" and refuse to allow an election.

He suggested a third attempt by Mr Johnson to call an election "will be coming before the House shortly".

Downing Street said no ministers or officials had offered to resign after the Supreme Court judgment and the Prime Minister "absolutely" has confidence in Mr Cox.

Senior Cabinet minister Michael Gove refused to apologise for the suspension, which would have kept MPs away from Westminster and unable to question the Government until October 14