News | Published October 24 2019

Prime minister withdraws from Commons liaison committee

The prime minister has withdrawn from a panel of the chairs of select committees today, announcing he must "focus on delivering Brexit" instead.

The discussion, which was scheduled "five or six months ago” by Sarah Wollaston, the committee chair, has already been rescheduled three times.

Johnson has been accused of "refusing to face detailed scrutiny" by Dr Wollaston.

Wollaston, a former Conservative MP, who is now a member of the Liberal Democrats, has published the handwritten note which reads:

"Dear Sarah, I promised that I will come to the Liaison Committee and I will keep that promise but I am afraid I must now focus on delivering Brexit in the difficult circumstances in which we now find ourselves, and I believe I would be of greater value if I could postpone to a fixed date nearer 5 or 6 months after I became PM, so that my appearance took place after roughly the same period in office as Gordon Brown, David Cameron & Theresa May.

"I do hope you will understand."

Wollaston voiced her "astonishment" at the prime minister’s decision to pull out of the panel at the last minute.

She responded “You are refusing to face detailed scrutiny from select committee chairs tomorrow morning.”

The MP continued “Our role as select committee chairs is to ask you detailed questions on behalf of the public and we planned to do so on Brexit, climate change, health and social care. It is unacceptable that you are refusing to be held to account."

The prime minister’s decision was supported by Sir Patrick McLoughlin, a Conservative MP and member of the liaison committee, who noted that Johnson "is held to account in this chamber by all members of Parliament" at the prime minister’s questions on Wednesday.

Lindsay Hoyle, the deputy speaker expressed his desire to see Johnson speak with the committee "this year, not next year".

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Authored by

Alice Jaspars
Culture Editor
October 24 2019

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