MPs hit out at ‘ridiculous’ security around Brexit impact reports

Posted On: 
6th December 2017

MPs and peers have hit out at the “ridiculous” level of security around the Brexit impact reports, claiming the majority of their contents is already in the public domain.

Liam Fox and David Davis outside No 10
PA Images

David Davis is set to appear in front on the EU select committee later today in order to clarify the Government’s position.

The Brexit Secretary was forced to hand over around 850 pages of analysis to the Brexit select committee last week - but the material was criticised after key information was left out because it was claimed it could be commercially sensitive or undermine negotiations with Brussels.

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Keir Starmer and Shadow Brexit ministers are understood to have seen the papers on Thursday. Now other politicians will now be allowed to view the papers in a reading room organised by the Brexit department but MPs attacked the “ridiculous amounts of security just to ensure that as few people see this stuff as possible”.

One MP told the Guardian the papers amounted to “two lever-arch files for 80% of the economy”.

 A senior Labour source told the paper: “It references materials already in the public domain, but they have been heavily, heavily edited to provide information which is uncontroversial and doesn’t add much to the substance.

“It will raise real questions about what on earth the government is doing to prepare, if this is all there is.”

The Lib Dem leader in the Lords Dick Newby said the tight security around the papers was a “complete farce”. 

“They make no assessment of the impact. They describe the current situation, they explain how the EU operates as well as how other countries work and then a section on what stakeholders think – that’s it,” he said.

“There is zero assessment of the economic impact. Nothing is redacted because there is nothing to redact.
“There is no reason whatsoever why they shouldn’t be published.” 

A spokesperson from the Department for Exiting the EU said: “Our analysis is not, nor has it ever been, a series of impact assessments.

”We have always been clear that our analysis does not exist in the form parliament requested. We have taken time to bring together information 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. It is not exhaustive and it is not the final say on any of these issues.”