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The UK vote to leave the EU in June 2016 sparked an intense period of activity for Select Committees in the House of Commons as they sought to scrutinise the Brexit process. 

Our analysis of data from the Select Committee Office shows that out of 2,571 public sessions held by House of Commons Select Committees between the referendum in June 2016 and the end of January 2020 (the date of UK withdrawal from the EU), 474 (18.4%) covered Brexit.

Following the referendum vote, new committees were set up to scrutinise the Brexit process and issues arising from it. These included the Exiting the EU Committee and the International Trade Committee set up to reflect the establishment of new government departments. Existing Select Committees also launched Brexit-related inquiries relevant to their policy remit.

Committees held a series of public evidence sessions with witnesses from a range of sectors to gather views on the Brexit process and its impact. Overall, 1,775 witnesses gave evidence at Select Committee sessions relating to Brexit. These included witnesses from government and public organisations, business, trade bodies, non-governmental organisations and academia. Just under a quarter came from government at the UK level, including ministers, officials and former officials.  The figure increases to over a third when including other government and public bodies. Less than 3% came from the devolved administrations.

Just under a quarter of witnesses were business representatives. Around a third of witnesses came from other external organisations, including academics, think tanks and charity/third sector organisations.

Just over 28% of witnesses were women. The figure was slightly higher where Committees had greater discretion as to who to invite. 

Our analysis also identified the witnesses appearing most frequently in Committee evidence sessions. Seven of the top eight were either ministers or permanent secretaries at government departments, the other being the former governor of the Bank of England.

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