Author: Not mentioned

Posted on: BBC | November 1st, 2017


Ministers have come under fresh pressure to release a series of Brexit impact studies, in a Commons debate.

Some Conservative MPs joined Labour in calling for the 58 documents, which focus on different sectors of the economy, to be published.

Labour is seeking to use an arcane parliamentary procedure to force the government’s hand.

The government did not contest the motion and earlier said there was an «obligation» not to publish the papers.

After the motion was carried unanimously, Commons Speaker John Bercow said: «It is sensible for us, the House, to wait for the government’s response and if I receive a representation I will reflect upon it»

He said MPs should not expect the response on Wednesday but, when pressed by Conservative Sarah Wollaston, he indicated that he would not expect the House to have to wait «for a period of several days».

On Monday the government published the list of sectors that have been looked at, ranging from aerospace and aviation to tourism and legal services, but has argued that releasing them would undermine its negotiating position with the EU.

During the Commons debate, former Conservative minister Anna Soubry said the documents should be published and could be redacted if necessary.

Another Conservative MP, Sarah Wollaston, said they should be sent to «all relevant select committees».

Labour, which organised the debate, sought to make use of what it called an «ancient, but still effective» parliamentary tool to secure the documents’ publication.

This involved tabling a motion that «an humble address be presented to Her Majesty» requiring that the reports «be laid before this House and that the impact assessments arising from those analyses be provided to the Committee on Exiting the European Union».

The unusual tactic won the support of Tory Eurosceptic backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said the motion should be binding on the government, and during the debate MPs appealed to the Speaker’s chair for clarity.

Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing said it would be for the government to respond, adding: «It is not for the chair to decide how the minister should answer the question.»

Brexit Minister Robin Walker argued there was a «clear obligation» not to release the information.

Labour’s Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer said it was a «victory for Parliament and for democracy».

«Ministers cannot keep withholding vital information from Parliament about the impact of Brexit on jobs and the economy,» he said.

«[Brexit Secretary] David Davis must now respond to Parliament’s ruling and urgently set a date for when he will share these papers.»

Brexit negotiations are set to resume on 9 and 10 November with the UK seeking to make enough progress to persuade the EU to move talks onto future issues like trade.

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