David Davis risks contempt of parliament over Brexit impact reports

 
Helen Cahill
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Davis has been ordered to see the Brexit committee "very soon" (Source: Getty)

Brexit secretary David Davis is at risk of being ruled in contempt of parliament over the handling of an analysis of how leaving the EU will impact business.

A row has erupted over 850 pages of analysis of Brexit's impact on the UK economy, which Davis has been forced to hand over to the Brexit select committee. The committee has demanded to see the analysis so it can scrutinise the government's Brexit negotiations.

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However, Hilary Benn, chair of the committee, complained today that the documents had been heavily edited, saying this was "not in keeping" with a vote by MPs calling for the information to be handed over. The government has previously argued that the release of the documents will harm its negotiations with the EU.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the refusal to supply MPs with a full set of documents could amount to contempt of parliament.

Speaker John Bercow responded to the calls of frustrated MPs this afternoon, saying he would consider an allegation of contempt unless Davis met with the Brexit select committee "very soon".

"No other diarised engagement is more important than respecting the house, and in this case the committee of the house, which has ownership of this matter and to which the papers were to be provided," Bercow said.

"As and when matters evolve, if a further representation alleging contempt is made to me I will consider it very promptly and come back to the house. I hope the house knows me well enough to know that I will do my duty."

Liberal Democrat Brexit committee member Wera Hobhouse accused the government of "trying to pull the wool over the eyes" of parliament and the British people with its behaviour over the impact assessments.

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