Dominic Cummings, chief polecat to alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, is said to be extremely relaxed at the thought of the full set of Yellowhammer documents being ponied up as a result of an emergency debate using the “humble address” to enforce their production. One wonders if his relaxed demeanour extends to all the rest of the address - if the debate is allowed. Speaker Bercow’s parting shot awaits.
Behind the scenes plotting may be revealed ...
... as his final and generous gesture
With Parliament to be prorogued after close of business today, two senior MPs are requesting emergency debates under the provisions of Standing Order 24. The Guardian reckons both will be allowed, especially given the strength of feeling among MPs at use of prorogation to shut down the Brexit debate as a way of running down the clock.
The first emergency debate request has come from senior (now former) Tory Dominic Grieve. The text has been disclosed by Paul Brand of ITV News. It begins “That a Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that she will be graciously pleased to direct Ministers to lay before this House, not later than 11.00pm Wednesday 11 September, all correspondence and other communications (whether formal or informal, in both written and electronic form, including but not limited to messaging services including, WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Facebook messenger, private email accounts both encrypted and unencrypted, text messaging and iMessage and the use of both official and personal mobile phones) to, from or within the present administration, since 23 July 2019 …”.
Then comes the killer: the list of named individuals. “ … relating to the prorogation of Parliament sent or received by one or more of the following individuals: Hugh Bennett, Simon Burton, Dominic Cummings, Nikki da Costa, Tom Irven, Sir Roy Stone, Christoper James, Lee Cain or Beatrice Timpson”. The text then goes on to extend the scope of the Humble Address to directing release of all Yellowhammer documents since 23 July.
The signatories show cross-party support. As Brand explains, “MPs are suspicious that a lot of communication happened outside of official channels. Controversially, they also name Sir Roy Stone, who is a civil servant responsible for ‘the usual channels’”. Can this be made to stick? Brand is not sure, and Cummings will try to dodge it.
“On a more serious point, cabinet office would have to make pretty major decision about whether to publish private messages like this. Asking officials to hand over Facebook messages etc is a pretty bold step. As [Sebastian Payne (of the FT)] reports, Cummings etc confident they can block it”. David Allen Green was not so sure.
“Dominic Cummings, *this* is how launch a legal ambush. Not by briefing bullshit to reporters … Presumably, all the relevant messages are in the possession of the government lawyers who prepared the (not sent) witness statement. If so, too late for delete. They are probably even in a form to be handed over readily”. Whoops!
Polecat Dom can’t just log on somewhere and do a blanket delete. As Green says, this is “An old litigation tactic. Wait until all the documents are in the hands of the lawyers and *then* ask for relevant disclosure. Too late to delete or destroy then”.
Dominic Cummings may be about to be ambushed, in what may be Speaker Bercow’s last major intervention before he hangs up his robes. And he can do nothing about it.
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