Theresa May’s dire performance at this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) has drawn plenty of comment – if your best weapon is a smear by Chuka Umunna, it’s clear you’re in trouble.
But one scene that hasn’t seen much attention is the question asked of May by SNP MP Deirdre Brock – and May’s incriminating avoidance-response that included an outright lie.
Brock asked May about her meeting last year with AggregateIQ, the data company co-founded by Cambridge Analytica whisteblower Christopher Wylie, which was at the centre of the Leave campaign.
Brock pointed out that May had refused to answer written questions about the meeting, so she was asking it at PMQs – and she listed the information she was still trying to obtain:
- Why did Jeff Silvester and Zack Massingham visit Number 10 last autumn?
- Who did they meet?
- Who invited them?
- What was the purpose of the meeting?
- most importantly, why was the meeting not declared in the parliamentary Transparency Database?
May’s response that she would provide a written response now made a mockery of the point of PMQs – Brock clearly wanted an answer right then and made no attempt to disguise her dissatisfaction.
But May’s claim that “[Brock’s] letter has not been drawn to my attention” was false – and Brock can briefly be glimpsed making that clear, too.
Deirdre Brock has asked her question at least twice – and on both occasions, Theresa May did reply, but without answering the question. And it’s not a recent phenomenon – she had the question almost six months ago:
This is anything but a trivial question. According to the excellent Carol Cadwalladr of the Guardian, this graphic represents some of the links between the various entities, far-right figures and AIQ/Cambridge Analytica:
It’s possible, of course, that the question was answered by a staff member, but it beggars belief, on a question of honesty and protocol – about a topic that was creating major headlines and embarrassment at the time as the allegations about the behaviour of data companies during the referendum campaign continued to emerge and which led to the extinction of one of the companies at the heart of it, that she would have heard nothing about it from her staff.
And ultimately, Mrs May’s name is the one against the non-answers to questions she denied having heard about.
And of course, we still don’t have a response to Deirdre Brock’s very pertinent questions about the nature and purpose of the Downing Street meeting – and, most importantly, why it wasn’t declared in the Transparency Database.
What is May so eager to hide? Why was she meeting with an organisation linked to Bannon and Mercer – and through others in that graphic to Russia?
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