Cameron Urged to Explain EU Referendum Claims to Lawmaker Panel

Will Cameron’s Tax Leak Harm His ‘Brexit’ Campaign?
  • Voters need more than slogans and claims, chairman says
  • Nigel Lawson attacks taxpayer-funded `propaganda' mailing

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron should agree to answer detailed questions from lawmakers about the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, the chairman of the committee that scrutinizes his work said on Monday.

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Cameron has refused to appear before the House of Commons Liaison Committee, which is made up of the chairmen and women of all the panels that hold the government to account, its chairman Andrew Tyrie, like Cameron a Conservative, said in a statement. Cross-questioning by the panel would help inform voters, he said.

“The public is eager to get beyond the slogans and exaggerated claims that have so far characterized too much of the referendum debate,” Tyrie said. “The Prime Minister argues that he has answered a lot of questions in the chamber of the House of Commons. Important as that is, it is no substitute for the more conversational exchanges -- with the opportunity to develop detailed arguments -- that only a select committee can provide.”

The government’s decision to use taxpayers’ money to send a 14-page booklet making the case for staying in the EU to 27 million households makes the prime minister’s refusal to appear before the committee “all the more disappointing,” Tyrie said. Cameron has only appeared before the panel once since last May’s general election, compared with the “usual” pattern of three times a year, according to the statement.

“The decision to call the referendum was his. He led the renegotiations. So it is his views and explanations that matter most, and are most worthy of careful scrutiny,” Tyrie said. “There is still time for the prime minister to reconsider.”

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, a Conservative lawmaker in the upper House of Lords, said taxpayers meeting the 9 million pound ($12.7 million) cost of the leaflet is “outrageous.” It is “money well spent,” Cameron, who is leading the campaign to stay in the EU, said last week.

“A lot of people who haven’t made up their mind particularly feel that it’s outrageous that this propaganda leaflet -- and it is pure propaganda, pretty worthless propaganda -- should be put out in the government’s name, with the Civil Service behind it at the taxpayer’s expense,” Lawson told BBC TV’s “Andrew Marr Show.” “Many people feel that that is a scandal.”

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