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Keir Starmer keeps pressure on David Davis over edited Brexit papers | Politics | The Guardian

theguardian.com – Keir Starmer keeps pressure on David Davis over edited Brexit papers. Labour’s Brexit spokesman to ask speaker to rule on whether his Tory opponent is in contempt of parliament –  and

Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, has warned that David Davis could be in contempt of parliament after the government handed over heavily edited analyses on the impact of leaving the EU to a select committee.

On Tuesday, Starmer accused the government of withholding information on how leaving the EU will affect 58 industrial sectors, after it previously promised to give the Brexit committee these documents in an unedited and unredacted form.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he would press the speaker of the House of Commons for a ruling on whether the Brexit secretary was in contempt.

“The government is under an obligation to pass this information to the Brexit committee. If it is failing in that obligation, as it appears to be, we intend to raise it with the Speaker … It follows from that that the government could be in contempt of parliament.

They are certainly treating parliament with contempt and we intend to press the Speaker on the issue and raise the issue of whether they are now in contempt. Having agreed to this procedure, they are now breaching it at the 11th hour.”

Davis has given 800 pages of analysis to the Brexit committee after being forced to do so by parliament. But MPs have accused the Brexit secretary of leaving out “politically embarrassing” information after he refused to include anything deemed to be market-sensitive or that he said could damage the UK’s negotiations with the EU27.

Davis said he was withholding the information because he had “received no assurances from the [Brexit] committee regarding how any information passed will be used”. That triggered a furious reaction from MPs on the committee who were supposed to be given the reports after a unanimous and binding parliamentary vote. One option, they said, was to trigger contempt proceedings against the cabinet minister.

They will meet the committee chairman, Hilary Benn, to discuss whether the release is acceptable on Tuesday morning.

Seema Malhotra, a Labour MP and member of the committee who has spearheaded a drive to obtain the Brexit impact studies, said publishing material that had been edited was “against the spirit and the letter of parliament’s motion”.

“It seems like the government has already decided what should and should not be seen by editing them before sending the impact studies to the select committee,” she said.

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An influential Brexit-supporting Conservative member of the committee, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said parliament’s vote should be considered as binding. He said the government was “in serious constitutional waters if it doesn’t provide the full information” to the committee.

“The government could have amended the motion, and that is still a fallback position for them. But without doing that, failure to provide all the information does not meet the terms of the humble address and is potentially a breach of privilege,” he told the Guardian.

“This is nothing to do with Brexit or party politics – it is to do with the rights of the House of Commons. We will all be in opposition one day – and it is important to remember that. If you try to trample the rights of the Commons in government – then when in opposition you have no means of curtailing abuses of power.”

Pete Wishart, an SNP constitution spokesman, said there had been a promise of no “redaction or qualification” and said he had written to Benn about the issue. He warned that he was ready to pursue “contempt of the house” proceedings with the Speaker, John Bercow, if he was not satisfied.

The MP for Perth said he expected the matter to be raised in the Commons through a series of points of order and it would be for the Speaker to decide whether the government was in contempt of parliament. If this was the case, he suggested that there could be a motion brought forward to refer the government to a parliamentary committee to await sanction.

Sources admitted that the information passed to the committee was a “piece of sectoral analysis” compiled into 39 reports that they said covered all the industries.

They insisted there never were 58 separate studies, but instead continuous work by civil servants that had been pulled together and edited in a way that officials believed would satisfy parliament’s demands.

However, Davis previously claimed the government was “in the midst of carrying out about 57 sets of analyses, each of which has implications for individual parts of 85% of the economy. Some of those are still to be concluded.”

It is not clear yet whether Benn will be satisfied with the information, as his reaction could defuse the row.

Davis has been under pressure to release the reports linked to 58 British sectors after MPs voted in favour of a Labour-led motion, which Bercow made clear was binding. The Speaker called on ministers to comply “very promptly indeed”, setting a deadline of 28 November.

Starmer had forced the issue by using an ancient parliamentary procedure known as a humble address. He said Davis needed to comply in full.

The select committee said the information would be treated in the same way as any evidence, with members assessing it during a meeting on Tuesday morning and deciding what should be placed in the public domain.

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Sorgente: Keir Starmer keeps pressure on David Davis over edited Brexit papers | Politics | The Guardian

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