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IFG - Brexit scrutiny risks becoming a chaotic competition for limelight

Scrutiny of Brexit is off to a shaky start, according to a new paper from the Institute for Government (IfG). The report finds that Parliament is already running over 30 separate inquiries into the issue – even before the election of MPs to chair the new Brexit select committees.

In Scrutinising Brexit: Parliament faces its biggest challenge, the IfG says that turf wars over who should scrutinise the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) mean the committee has still not been set up – a full four months after the department’s creation. The think tank warns that without strong leadership and a clear plan to engage the Brexit Ministers, the DExEU committee risks becoming a large but toothless watchdog.

In recent years, select committees have gained a growing reputation for influencing policy and holding Government and individuals - such as Rupert Murdoch and Mike Ashley - to account. The paper argues that Brexit will either be the issue that unravels this progress or embeds the place of select committees in our democratic system.

But a proliferation of parliamentary inquiries into Brexit will lead to overlapping lines of inquiry, competition for media headlines, and “witness fatigue”. So it is crucial that all committees find a way to coordinate and work together to best serve the needs of the electorate. 

Dr Hannah White, report author, said:

“Select committee scrutiny of Brexit risks becoming a chaotic competition for the limelight, diverting huge amounts of ministerial and official time which might have been better spent elsewhere. The MPs who sit on these committees – and the new chairs being newly elected – face a huge task undertaking scrutiny of Brexit. But they must rise to the challenge, because ultimately better scrutiny will mean better Brexit.”

Notes to editors

  1. The full paper can be found here
  2. The Institute for Government is an independent think tank that works to make government more effective.
  3. For more information, please contact nicole@instituteforgovernment.org.uk / 07850313791.
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