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Fri, 10 July 2020

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MPs to debate summons for Vote Leave boss Dominic Cummings amid committee row

MPs to debate summons for Vote Leave boss Dominic Cummings amid committee row

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

MPs will debate whether the controversial former boss of the official Brexit campaign can be forced to appear before a powerful Commons committee.

Dominic Cummings - who masterminded the 2016 Vote Leave campaign - has refused to submit to a grilling from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

MPs want to probe him about claims Vote Leave broke spending rules during the campaign and had links to a controversial firm which stands accused of illegally obtaining voter data.

Chair of the committee Damian Collins has launched a bid to formally summon Mr Cummings to appear - but it is thought the move has no legal weight.

But Commons Speaker John Bercow today announced MPs will be able to debate the issue as a matter of urgency tomorrow.

He said Mr Collins could table the motion today which would see MPs vote on whether to summon the pro-Brexit campaigner for a hearing.

“The Honourable Gentleman’s motion will appear on tomorrow's order paper to be taken after any urgent questions and statements,” Mr Bercow explained.

Mr Collins tweeted that he was “grateful” for the opportunity and would ensure his bid for the debate went in today.

But Mr Cummings has previously told the committee boss: "Your threats are empty. I will not come to your committee regardless of how many letters you send or whether you send characters in fancy dress to hand me papers."

The committee wants to ask him about Vote Leave's relationship with data firm Aggregate IQ and its use of targeted online ads during the referendum campaign.

Aggregate IQ has been linked to SCL Group, which is the parent company of scandal-hit data firm Cambridge Analytica.

The latter company stands accused of using illegally obtained data to swing the US election for Donald Trump and using underhand tactics in various campaigns around the world.

If MPs vote for a summons and Mr Cummings still refuses to appear the issue could be sent to the Committee of Privileges for a separate inquiry.