Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen
Dominic Cummings, campaign director for Vote Leave during the EU referendum campaign, is on course to be found guilty of a contempt of parliament. The Commons culture committee has been asking him to give evidence to its fake news inquiry, he has been saying no (or at least, not now), and today the committee has announced that it will report him to the Commons for contempt of parliament.
But Alexander Nix, the former Cambridge Analytica boss who was also refusing invitations to appear, has now, having been issued with a summons, agreed that he will appear before the committee, on Wednesday 6 June.
We are disappointed that Dominic Cummings has not responded positively to our requests for him to appear. His reasoning that he must delay giving evidence due to ongoing investigations simply does not hold up, considering that Alexander Nix, Jeff Silvester and others involved have agreed to cooperate with the committee’s investigations despite currently being subject to various investigations.
Reporting the matter to the House is a first step which could result in a decision that a contempt of parliament has been committed, a very serious outcome for the individual.
The Houses’ power to punish non-members for contempt is untested in recent times. In theory, both Houses can summon a person to the bar of the House to reprimand them or order a person’s imprisonment. In addition, the House of Lords is regarded as possessing the power to fine non-members. The House of Commons last used its power to fine in 1666 and this power may since have lapsed.
In 1978 the House of Commons resolved to exercise its penal jurisdiction as sparingly as possible and only when satisfied that it was essential to do so in order to provide reasonable protection for the House, its members or its officers from improper obstruction or interference with the performance of their functions. Since that resolution, the Commons has not punished a nonmember. There is no equivalent resolution in the House of Lords, but the House has not punished a non-member since the nineteenth century.
My colleague Jennifer Rankin says EU sources have their concerns about the UK government’s reported plan to effectively extend customs union membership.
EU sources cautious on pos Brexit customs union climbdown and unsurprisingly want to see proposals. One concern is that gov just playing for time and still pinning homes on customs p/ship ( aka “magical thinking”) or max-fac (“less useful than a deodorant”). https://t.co/r2iV8cQDMZ