The head of the official Brexit campaign was accused of holding the British public in “contempt” today after repeatedly cancelling appearances before MPs.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of Vote Leave, finally appeared before the Treasury Select Committee this afternoon – at the fourth time of asking.
While the committee accepted he was unable to accept the first invitation, chairman Andrew Tyrie was clearly furious with Elliot for deciding to go ahead with trip to Switzerland last month when he was invited a second time.
Elliott refused to appear before the committee a third time because he did not want to appear alongside fellow Brexit campaigner Arron Banks, according to Tyrie.
He accused Elliott of “mucking around” Parliament, and 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.”
Tory MP Mark Garnier also tore into Elliott, telling him members of the committee had to repeatedly rearrange diaries, including cancelling appointments in their constituencies.
He said: “Do you not understand that sends a simply dismal and appalling message of the amount of contempt that you hold for the electorate of this country?”
Elliott replied: “I would be extremely surprised if any of your constituents had heard of the diary trouble for getting this date set up.”
He went on to say that it “is an extremely busy period” and he always made it clear when he could not appear before the committee.