Vote Leave chief accused of 'mucking Parliament around'

Posted On: 
9th May 2016

The head of the Vote Leave campaign has been sharply criticised for resisting invitations to appear before MPs to be grilled on the case for leaving the European Union. 

Vote Leave chief executive Matthew Elliott was summoned to appear before MPs
Credit: 
Parliament TV

Matthew Elliott was summoned to give evidence to the Treasury Committee this afternoon, having declined three previous invitations.

Andrew Tyrie, the chairman of the committee, accused Mr Elliott of “mucking Parliament around”.

Labour donor John Mills quits as Vote Leave deputy chair

Vote Leave £350m claim 'potentially misleading', says watchdog

Vote Leave chief accused of ‘playing fast and loose with facts’ by senior Tory

The Tory MP accepted Mr Elliott was unable to attend the first invitation, but hit out at his decision then to go ahead with a trip to Switzerland rather than face the committee.

Mr Tyrie said: “This is the first time that certainly I’ve felt the need to order such a thing [summons] in order to secure a witness; it’s the first time that I’ve ever seen it done on any committee I’ve served, and I’ve been on select committees for most of the 19 years I’ve been in Parliament; and I think, frankly, that the difficulty of getting you here is scarcely consistent with the application you put to be the lead campaigner for leaving the EU.”

Mr Elliott, Vote Leave’s chief executive, said it would not have been “appropriate” to rearrange his Switzerland visit.

“The key objective at Vote Leave has always been to make sure that you get the best possible evidence,” he said in reference to the group’s offer to put up a different witness to the MPs.

On several occasions Mr Tyrie challenged Mr Elliott to acknowledge that he should have turned up earlier.

“Do you accept that all of this, the mucking around of Parliament that you’ve gone in for here, was a mistake?” he asked.

When Mr Elliott demurred repeatedly, Mr Tyrie surmised: “The message still doesn’t seem fully to have got through, how close to the wind you’ve sailed.”