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Fri, 18 September 2020

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Boris Johnson urged to face grilling by senior MPs ‘at the earliest possible opportunity’

Boris Johnson urged to face grilling by senior MPs ‘at the earliest possible opportunity’

Boris Johnson has cancelled or postponed appearances before the Liaison Committee three times (PA)

2 min read

The new chair of a powerful cross-party Commons committee has urged Boris Johnson to face a grilling when Parliament returns after recess.

Sir Bernard Jenkin invited Boris Johnson to appear “at the earliest possible opportunity in June”, following his first meeting as chair of the Liaison Committee, which brings together the chairs of all other Commons scrutiny bodies.

The Tory MP said: “As you are aware, your immediate predecessors committed to appearing before the Committee three times per year. 

“This would be your first appearance before the Committee since being appointed Prime Minister last July. 

“On this occasion, therefore, the Committee would like to hold a two-hour hearing with you. The Committee is keen for this to be well before the end of June.”

He added: “At this difficult time, it is of crucial importance that Parliament is able to hold government to account. 

“While you have been answering questions from the media and in the House, Select Committee Chairs have yet to have the opportunity to conduct the more detailed scrutiny which is even more essential in the present crisis.”

Boris Johnson had last been due to appear before the committee - the only one with the power to question the Prime Minister - in October.

But he pulled out of the meeting shortly before, marking the third time he had postponed or cancelled his attendance since entering Number 10.

Writing to Mr Johnson at the time, former Chair Sarah Wollaston said she was astonished that he had pulled out “at such short notice” adding: “It is unacceptable that you are refusing to be held to account.”

Sir Bernard was appointed to replace Ms Wollaston, who lost her seat in the 2019 General Election, on Wednesday. 

His nomination to the role caused controversy, with MPs, including fellow Conservatives, angered at efforts to put a government-approved candidate in the top job.

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