POLITICS

Secret Brexit Reports Given To MPs...But Ministers Hold Back Key Information

The Government claims it is protecting the UK's negotiating position

27/11/2017 16:55 GMT | Updated 27/11/2017 19:45 GMT
PA Wire/PA Images

Ministers have been accused of keeping the public “in the dark” after cutting out key information from secret Brexit reports before handing them to MPs.

The Government agreed on November 1 to give Parliament its internal analysis of how Brexit will affect 58 sectors of the economy, ranging from aerospace and aviation to tourism and legal services.

After almost a month of waiting, the Brexit Select Committee - along with the Lords EU Committee - has finally been given the around 800-page document, but the Government has cut out anything it feels could harm the UK’s negotiations with the EU.

Brexit Committee members will meet on Tuesday morning to discuss which part of the report can be made public, but some are already furious the Government chose to edit the document before handing it over.

Labour MP Seema Malhotra, who sits on the Committee, said: “It seems like the Government have already decided what should and should not be seen by editing them before sending the impact studies to the Select Committee.

“David Davis has publicly stated for months that the reports are complete.

“In evidence to the Select Committee he had said they were ‘in excruciating detail’.

“In November, his Department was saying they ‘didn’t exist’. British businesses and families deserve better than this. They need certainty for their futures.

“The Select Committee must be given the full analyses which were completed and nothing less. We cannot and should not be short-changed.

“This will not be in the national interest. The public and Parliament must no longer be kept in the dark.”

 

Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer was equally as frustrated, and said: “Parliament was very clear in its instruction to ministers. All 58 impact assessments should have been shared with the select committee in full, without redaction and unedited.

“If the Government has failed to comply with this ruling then we will not hesitate in raising this matter with the Speaker.”

A Government source said it had held back some information in order to abiding by a motion in the Commons  on 7 December 2016.

The motion stated: “There should be no disclosure of material that could be reasonably judged to damage the UK in any negotiations to depart from the European Union after Article 50 has been triggered;”

A spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the European Union said: “The Government has satisfied the motion — providing the House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee with information covering 58 sectors of the economy. We have also shared the information with the Lords EU Committee.

“We have always been clear that our analysis does not exist in the form Parliament requested. We have taken time to bring together the analysis we do have in a way that meets Parliament’s specific ask.

“Our overall programme of work is comprehensive, thorough and is continuously updated. This sectoral analysis is simply one part of it.”