Government will publish 'embarrassing' Brexit papers under pressure from Labour

Posted On: 
31st January 2018

The Government will publish leaked Brexit analysis in full after Labour secured a Commons vote demanding its release. 

Keir Starmer will use ancient Commons rules to force the Government's hand
Credit: 
PA

Foreign Office minister Mark Field said that Tory MPs would abstain when the issue is debated in the House this afternoon, meaning Labour's motion calling for their publication will pass.

A Downing Street spokesman confirmed that the Government will abide by the will of the House.

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Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer yesterday announced his intention to use an ancient parliamentary process – known as a humble address - which would make the result of the vote binding on ministers.

Labour successfully used it previously to force the publication of separate government assessments of Brexit's impact.

It comes after Buzzfeed published leaked analysis carried out by civil servants which suggested Britain would be worse off under a variety of Brexit scenarios.

However ministers and eurosceptic MPs have argued that the work is unfinished and does not take into account the Government's preferred aim of securing a bespoke trade deal.

Asked why the work had not been made public, a DExEU source told the website: "Because it's embarrassing."

Responding yesterday, Downing Street insisted that the reports were incomplete, while Brexit minister Steve Baker said they had been released in an attempt to "undermine" the Government's approach.

Mr Baker also told MPs that the analysis would not be published in full while negotiations with Brussels were ongoing.

But today the Government backed down, with Mr Field telling Daily Politics: “We have a debate in the House today and we of course as a government will respect the view of the House and I suspect that the humble address that’s being beseeched upon the House today, that motion is likely to be passed.

“We’re going to be abstaining, we will play a full part in the debate, so it will get through and I think they will be published but I think the big caveat is these are draft and they don’t take account of what we regard as the desired outcome, which is to have a bespoke deal.”