Brexit secretary David Davis has told MPs that the 58 sectoral analyses looking at the impact of leaving the European Union cannot be handed over by today's deadline, because "it is not the case that [they] exist".
The government was due to reveal the details of the impact studies today, following a binding vote in the Commons last week. As recently as 30 October, Davis said the studies existed when he revealed the full list of which sectors they covered.
But writing to the Brexit select committee today, the minister claimed MPs were labouring under "some misunderstanding", saying the analysis was "a wide mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis, contained in a range of documents developed at different times since the referendum".
"It is not, nor has it ever been, a series of discrete impact assessments examining the quantitative impact of Brexit on those sectors."
Davis added it would "take time to collate and bring together this information", claiming his team would do so in "no more than three weeks".
But MPs were furious that the Department for Exiting the EU had denied them the chance to look at these studies as scheduled. Labour MP Chris Bryant said the move suggested the government "holds this house in contempt [and] the British public in contempt".
Answering on behalf of Davis, Brexit minister Steve Baker insisted full publication now would risk harming negotiations. He said the public will "look at the kind of narrative members opposite are trying to create and they will ask 'whose side are they on?'"
He went onto insist that preparing the impact papers would "distract both ministers and officials from the negotiations".