The UK’s Brexit Secretary David Davies was threatened with being held in contempt of the British House of Commons on Tuesday, for withholding information from the opposition.
This would be the first time since WWII that a member of the cabinet would be held in contempt. What the government withheld from the opposition is an 850-page analysis produced by the Brexit Select Committee following consultation with 58 sectors of the British economy. The analysis is in effect a series of impact assessments of leaving the EU.
Only senior ministers and civil servants have seen the report.
The Chairman of the Committee, Hillary Benn, demanded the release of this evident as “a matter of urgency” while the shadow Brexit Secretary, Labour’s Sir Kei Starmer, warned David Davies of the consequences of withholding information.
Defiant, the Brexit Minister Robin Walker said that the government in fact published more than originally intended. Walker said that any evidence withheld is meant to protect the UK’s negotiating position.
The Conservative member of the committee Craig McKinlay suggests that this information could be used against “the national interest,” telling the BBC that getting this wrong will cost the country billions.
The Speaker of the Parliament, John Bercow, expects written reports by the opposition making the case that the government holds the parliament in contempt. The Speaker must then decide whether to refer the case of the Committee on Standards and Privileges for investigation.