The Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey has questioned the Justice Minister, David Gauke, on whether the Government are in breach of the Bribery Act (2010) over plans to offer MPs money for their constituency to vote for the Brexit deal. The Justice minister stated that he would meet with Ed Davey to discuss this important matter.
The issue has come to prominence after a letter from Liberal Democrat Peer Martin Thomas was published in the Sunday Times.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:
“With media reports that a desperate Number 10 is seeking to tempt Opposition MPs to back their Brexit deal by offering constituency favours, Liberal Democrats are right to call foul play.
"The Government could be in clear breach of the Bribery Act. I am pleased David Gauke is now prepared to meet me to discuss this serious matter, and I will be seeking an early date.
“Brexit should not be stitched up with backroom deals but sorted out with a people’s vote, with an option to remain in the EU.”
Sir, The offer of cash subsidies to an MP for the benefit of his or her constituents provided the MP votes for the government’s withdrawal agreement is a breach of section 1 of the Bribery Act 2010 (“May woos Labour MPs with cash to back Brexit”, Jan 31, and letters, Feb 1). The MP party to such an agreement is in breach of Section 2. A minister who gives a financial or political advantage to an MP intending to bring about the improper performance of his or her duty to vote in good faith, impartially or in accordance with a position of trust, breaches Section 1. Receiving the advantage intending to act improperly breaches Section 2.
In deciding whether the casting of a vote has been performed improperly, the test of what is expected is a test of what a reasonable person in the UK would expect in relation to the performance of that public duty. If the government discriminated in favour of one deprived area against another on the basis of the vote cast by its MP, no reasonable jury would conclude in its favour. Pork-barrelling is a euphemism for corruption. It may be ingrained in the US, but the Bribery Act kills it in the UK. Another brief for the attorney general.
Lord Thomas of Gresford, QC
House of Lords