Labour to force government's hand on Brexit studies

Catherine Neilan
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David Davis Warns Remaining In The EU Will Damage British Jobs
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Labour is to force a binding vote in the House of Commons tomorrow, compelling the government to hand over the 58 economic impact studies it has carried out on Brexit.

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer will use an archaic parliamentary rule to demand the Department for Exiting the EU (DexEU) hands the studies, which looked at 88 per cent of the UK's economies, covering industries including banking, fintech and asset management, to the Committee on Exiting the European Union. Unlike typical opposition day debates, the motion, if passed, will be binding on the Government.

Yesterday Davis finally revealed which industries the studies covered, but insisted the findings would not be published, arguing that they should remain in a "safe space" to protect negotiations.

Earlier this month a letter signed by 120 MPs called on the Brexit Secretary to disclose DexEU's findings, and Tories including former Attorney General Dominic Grieve have called for the papers to be published.

Labour is demanding the studies are passed to the Brexit select committee, which will then determine what information is released to the public.

"If the Government oppose the motion tomorrow they are saying that the Brexit Select Committee, which has a Conservative majority, cannot be trusted with the impact assessments," Labour noted.

Starmer said: “Labour recognises the importance of protecting the Government’s negotiating position with the European Union. However, that does not give Ministers the right to impose a blanket ban on publishing any information whatsoever about the economic impact of Brexit.

“At the start of the negotiations, Theresa May said everyone needed certainty during the Brexit process and that the vote to leave was a vote for Parliament to take back control. If those words meant anything at all, then she should stop side-lining Parliament and give MPs the information they need to properly hold the Government to account in what are undoubtedly the most important negotiations since the Second World War.”

In response, Brexit secretary David Davis said: "On the sectoral studies, I think there’s been a certain degree of misunderstanding about these.

"Firstly, remember the reason we’re not releasing them — there was a House of Commons vote in December of last year where we said that we are not required to release anything which undermines the negotiation or the national interest frankly, or the negotiating stance of the British government. That is the reasoning behind it. But I don’t think you should overestimate what’s in them. They're not economic models of each sector, they are looking at how much of it depends on European Union versus other markets, what other opportunities may be, what the regulatory structures are, all those sorts of things that inform the negotiation, but they are not predictions. So I wouldn’t overestimate what they are."

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