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The UK Government should be held in contempt of parliament over Brexit papers.
The SNP has called on the Speaker of the House to consider giving precedence to a motion that the UK government has “held this House in contempt,” following the failure of the government to abide by a motion passed last week which calls for the release of its secret Brexit papers.
In a Point of Order raised in Westminster, the SNP’s Shadow Leader of the House, Pete Wishart MP, said that he has written to the Speaker to raise a privilege complaint that the government has held the House in contempt for refusing to comply with a binding vote of the House.
Earlier, the Brexit minister stated that the UK government may provide the Brexit Committee with the Brexit papers detailed in last week’s motion, but this was not given as a binding promise or guarantee - with the minister going as far as to suggest that these papers may not even exist.
MPs from across Westminster last week voted in favour of the government bringing before parliament its impact assessment analyses that is reported to show the true cost of Brexit to the UK’s economy and business sectors.
However, a government minister announced that it will take three weeks before the Brexit sectorial impact assessments are brought before parliament and MPs.
Peter Wishart MP said:
“The UK government has for weeks and months since the EU referendum sought out every avenue, procedure and tactic to avoid even an atom of parliamentary scrutiny over its plans to leave the EU.
“The government’s latest attempt to simply outline a vague date in the distant future, and then to hide behind the recess period is nothing short of a government holding this parliament in contempt.
“The Tory government’s delay in publication of its impact assessment papers – and its statement of intent rather providing absolute certainty – contravenes the requirements of the motion and the will of this parliament, and therefore represents a contempt as it obstructs and impedes our ability to carry out duties.
“In just a matter of weeks the Tory government has gone from confirming the Brexit papers exist, to then denying they exist, before spending the entirety of a debate on the issue arguing on how best to hide the papers from public view - before finally saying they will be released on an undisclosed date.
“Therefore, in accordance with procedure set down in Erskine May, I am urging the Speaker of the House to consider giving precedence to a motion that the government has held this House in contempt.
“If such a motion was to be placed before the House, I believe it should also include an instruction for the government to publish the relevant papers either immediately or by a specified date."
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