Nicky Morgan: I'm ready to grill ministers about risk of Brexit chaos

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New Treasury committee chairwoman Nicky Morgan is ready to grill Brexit ministers over growing concerns that Britain is heading for a chaotic splintering from the EU.

In her first comments since getting the job she also told the Standard she wants the Government to be more open about Brexit as negotiations intensify.

The committee may summon Brexit Secretary David Davis and possibly International Trade Secretary Liam Fox to give evidence.

She made clear she would be tough on ministers who refuse to answer questions and require information to be “dragged” out of them.

Ms Morgan, a former Treasury minister who was a corporate lawyer before becoming a Tory MP, also signalled the committee could investigate a feared Brexit-linked exodus from the City.

The Brexit Committee, chaired by Labour’s Hilary Benn, is the main group of MPs tasked with scrutinising the Government over quitting the EU.

However Brexit is expected to be a major focus of the Treasury committee’s work, although Ms Morgan also wants it to cover a wide range of issues including household debt, tax, public expenditure and infrastructure spending.

Chancellor Philip Hammond will regularly be asked to give evidence.

But former education secretary Ms Morgan added: “There is no reason why the committee cannot summon other ministers who may be outside the Treasury if they have relevant evidence or points of view on things we are looking at.”

Pressed on whether that could be the Brexit Secretary, she said: “Absolutely, adding: “Probably less Boris, possibly Liam on international trade, yes.

She added: “I have been on the other side of the table so I can tell when a minister is trying very hard not to answer the question. If they don’t answer the questions, [they] should expect to be grilled until they do.”

Downing Street has limited the flow of information released about Brexit, stressing it will not be giving a running commentary.  

Morgan: I’m ready to grill ministers about risk of Brexit chaosBut Ms Morgan said: “To expect MPs are somehow going to be satisfied with debating finer points of the Repeal Bill and not worrying about the broader shape of Brexit is not going to be sustainable.

“When there is information to be shared it should be shared. It should not be dragged out of the Government and to be fair I think David Davis is up for this.”

Ms Morgan, the first woman to chair the influential committee, believes it is “inevitable” the Government will become more open as the EU publishes details from its side.

With many banks already making plans to move staff to Paris, Frankfurt and Dublin if there is a “hard Brexit”, Ms Morgan said: “Clearly the City is very diverse and has a lot of people from overseas, particularly from other EU jurisdictions.

“One of the concerns … is losing  people overseas, both EU citizens going home but also just losing business overseas. I think the committee will be very interested in that.”

Brexiteers may seek to exploit the fact that Ms Morgan was a strong Remain campaigner, but she pledged to be impartial and independent-minded.

The committee is also set to focus on soaring household debt. Ms Morgan said: “There are concerns about levels of household debt. Interest rates have been low for a very long time. If there were to be a change in that, how would households cope?”@nicholascecil


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