The names in the frame for the Brexit Select Committee

The names in the frame for the Brexit Select Committee

Last week saw Hilary Benn elected by MPs to chair the new Exiting the European Union Select Committee (Brexit Committee), which will scrutinise the work of David Davis and his ministers. Now a further twenty MPs need to be appointed to sit on the committee, who will be chosen by ballots of MPs from the respective parties.

From the Tories, there are 18 candidates for the ten places: 13 Leavers and 5 Remainers. They are:

  • Peter Bone (Wellingborough, Leave)
  • Alistair Burt (Bedfordshire North East, Remain)
  • Maria Caulfield (Lewes, Leave)
  • Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon, Remain)
  • Steve Double (St. Austell & Newquay, Leave)
  • Michael Gove (Surrey Heath, Leave)
  • Chris Green (Bolton West, Leave)
  • Andrea Jenkyns (Morley & Outwood, Leave)
  • Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford, Remain)
  • Peter Lilley (Hitchin & Harpenden, Leave)
  • Karl McCartney (Lincoln, Leave)
  • Craig Mackinlay (Thanet South, Leave)
  • Nigel Mills (Amber Valley, Leave)
  • Dominic Raab (Esher & Walton, Leave)
  • Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury, Remain)
  • Anna Soubry (Broxtowe, Remain)
  • John Whittingdale (Maldon, Leave)
  • Mike Wood (Dudley South, Leave)

Voting will take place by secret ballot between 1 pm and 3.30 pm in a Commons committee room on Wednesday 26th October. It is worth remembering that only backbenchers can vote – ministers and whips are excluded from participating.

By my reckoning there are 234 Conservative backbenchers eligible to vote (it would have been 235, before Zac Goldsmith’s resignation) and my figures suggest that at the referendum they declared as follows: 112 in favour of Leave; 119 in favour of Remain; and three undeclared. Of course, how they declared and how they actually voted may not necessarily be the same thing – I suspect some of those declaring for Remain did so for reasons of personal ambition under the ancien regime.

But it will be a significant ballot – far more than a mere fascinating taking of the temperature of how the Tory backbenches feel about Brexit – because of the 11 non-Tories on the committee, only one will be a Leaver: whoever is selected from among the DUP MPs. So it would only require one Remainer to be elected as one of the ten Tories for there to be a Remain majority on the committee. While MPs will vote on more than mere attitudes to Brexit, it will clearly be the dominant question in their minds as they cast their ballots. And with only five Remain-backing Tories standing, there may be concerns in the Leave camp that “their” votes might be spread too thinly when the votes are counted.

Meanwhile, Labour have four further places on the committee in addition to Mr Benn. They voted on Tuesday 25th October from the following shortlist (all of whom declared for Remain):

  • Stella Creasy (Walthamstow)
  • Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South)
  • Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central)
  • Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon)
  • Ian Lucas (Wrexham)
  • Seema Malhotra (Feltham & Heston) – ELECTED
  • Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East) – ELECTED
  • Melanie Onn (Great Grimsby)
  • Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) – ELECTED
  • Stephen Timms (East Ham) – ELECTED

MPs from the minor parties will be selected in due course in the following proportions:

  • SNP – 2
  • Liberal Democrats – 1
  • Democratic Unionist Party – 1
  • SDLP – 1
  • Plaid Cymru – 1