David Davis, the Brexit secretary, has been told by the speaker of the house, John Bercow, that he must appear before the Brexit select committee in the coming days, or risk being held in contempt of Parliament.
This news comes after it was revealed that John Bercow had demanded the unedited studies on the impact of Brexit, which Davis had gloated about, must be shown to the select committee. Davis has still not presented his studies, and now Bercow has demanded that he explain himself to the committee.
The delay in the release of these studies has once again stirred up the subject of Brexit in the public. Many campaigners who voted remain claim that Davis is refusing to release these documents because they show how bad the impacts of Brexit could be. It had been released that the studies analysed 58 sectors of the economy, accounting for 29 million jobs, and more recently, a heavily edited copy of the study was given to the select committee. This, however, was not seen as enough by the committee or the speaker of the house, and now Davis finds himself in a difficult position: risk jeopardising Brexit talks by releasing studies detailing the negative impacts of Brexit, or risk having to resign after being held in contempt of Parliament.
This delaying and manipulating on the part of the Brexit secretary has led to more uncertainty about the possible negative impacts of leaving the European Union, especially with the possibility of a “No Deal” Brexit becoming a very possible outcome in recent weeks. This evasion from Davis is not just an affront to remain voters, but as it was put by the Labour MP (who herself is on the select committee) Semma Malhotra: “Those who campaigned to leave the EU told voters that Brexit would “take back control” of our laws – passing sovereignty from Brussels to Britain’s sovereign Parliament. Their obfuscation and lack of respect over these impact assessments suggests a worrying trend and risks rendering these pledges meaningless.”
However, those who have jumped to the defense of Davis claim that he is right to withhold this sensitive information in case it is used by ‘Remainers’ to go “against the national interest”. This was the statement of Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay, who is also on the select committee, claiming that the committee members cannot be trusted to not leak the information to the press. Davis’ negotiation powers depend upon the leverage of the EU not knowing how Brexit is going to affect Britain. If Europe, for instance, know that a no deal will negatively affect Britain, and more importantly know that there will public resistance to this negative impact, it gives them a significant position of power in the negotiations. Britain would be more willing to give concessions to the EU, through fear of the public outcry around taking a “no deal” Brexit that could negatively impact the Nation.
These are the impacts of a very serious and sensitive political undertaking, one that was brought about by public consensus. Many believe that the public have never been so involved with or attached to political action, and they deserve to know the impacts of their decisions. With threats of contempt being levied against him, Mr. Davis must respond. The coming days could reignite the Brexit debate, or it could turn out to be yet another melodrama in a political process that has already dragged on for far too long.