I think that most of us know the Leave promises by heart by now. An extra £350 million a week for the NHS, new trade deals ready to be signed on the day of departure from the EU, and an ability to keep the exact same benefits as the UK currently has inside the Single Market and Customs Union once we are outside. The lies and deceptions of the ‘Leave’ campaign leading up to the Brexit referendum were many – and they been exposed.
As reality unfolds, the Government are doing their best to hide the true implications of Brexit, most recently manifested through their refusal to publish the Brexit impact studies.
Here are eight reasons why it is absolutely crucial that these secret studies are published:
1. Set the record straight. David Davis, the Brexit Secretary of State, first claimed to have 58 impact studies, then refused to make them public and then, when ordered to release them, denied they existed in a form ready for publication. We need an end to the speculation: Publish the studies now.
2. Involve the people. As the decision to leave the EU was a result of a democratic vote, the process itself should involve the people as much as possible. This requires a public debate about the consequences of Brexit – including the economic implications set out in the impact studies. Let the people know the truth.
3. Ensure Parliament is at the heart of the process. Parliament should be playing an important democratic role in scrutinising, debating and amending the Government’s proposals and policies regarding Brexit. In order to do so effectively, MPs needs access to all relevant information concerning the consequences of our country leaving the EU. Don’t keep Parliament in the dark.
4. Strengthen the PM’s ability to deliver the best deal for the UK. Publishing these reports will strengthen the PM’s hand with her own colleagues. If the reports confirm a hard Brexit would be damaging to the UK this will help her argue the case for a soft Brexit. Strengthen the PM’s hand.
5. Prove the Government is putting country before party. If these studies show that Tory Brexit will not make the UK the land of milk and honey Brexiters dreamt of, it is in the public interest to know, whether it’s beneficial for the Conservative Party or not. Put country before party.
6. Provide clarity for the people on the Northern Ireland-Ireland border. The people living and working along the Northern Ireland-Ireland border are deeply reliant on trade with one another, with approximately €60billion worth of trade exchanging between the UK and Ireland each year (according to the Director General of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce’s evidence to the House of Lords European Union Committee). They deserve to know what they can expect from Brexit in order to prepare for a new reality. Maintain our close friendships.
7. Give businesses more certainty. UK businesses have been operating in an extremely uncertain business environment since the Brexit vote. Businesses need to know how Brexit will affect their sector and what alternative trading arrangements might apply after Brexit. Provide clarity to business.
8. Avoid being in contempt of Parliament. In response to a number of Points of Order from me and other MPs, the Speaker confirmed he would consider an allegation of contempt of Parliament if the sectoral reports are not published by the 28th November. Publication by then would avoid this charge. Don’t risk contempt of Parliament.
These are eight simple reasons to release the reports, the Government’s response mustn’t be eight evasive excuses justifying their decision to keep these reports from the public and Parliament.
Tom Brake is the Lib Dem MP for Carshalton and Wallington and the party Brexit spokesman