May forced to apologise for press briefing

By Ian Dunt

Theresa May was forced into a humiliating apology to the Commons after Speaker John Bercow revealed the press had been given copies of her statement to the House before she delivered it.

The mistake took place on Monday morning, when a Home Office press briefing on the temporary immigration cap saw several copies of a statement very similar to the one she delivered to the House given to the media.

A complaint was subsequently made to the Speaker, who has vowed to challenge instances of important government initiatives being announced to the media before they are revealed to the Commons.

“I am concerned that ministers should make key statements to the House before they are made elsewhere,” Mr Bercow said.

“This was a discourtesy to the House. The home secretary is present and will wish to take this opportunity to say something.”

Ms May said she “deeply” regretted what had happened, and blamed the fact that she switched from a written to an oral statement at the last minute.

“I deeply regret the fact that in my attempt on Monday to assist the House from moving to a written ministerial statement to an oral statement the copy… was handed out to the press before I made my oral statement.

“I take my full responsibility for that, Mr Speaker, and I have no hesitation in apologising to the House. I… assure the House it will not happen again.”

New Labour was persistently rebuked for leaking policy initiatives to the media rather than announcing them in the Commons. Mr Bercow has been keen to come down hard on instances of the same habit among the coalition government.