Government hiding the damage of its “shambolic” Brexit approach by refusing to release Brexit studies, Unite says

The government is hiding the damage its “shambolic” handling of Brexit could cause the country and obstructing Parliament by refusing to release key details of 58 secret Brexit studies, Unite has said.

Yesterday (October 30), the Brexit department said it would not release key details from the 58 government studies on how Brexit will impact the economy because officials need a “safe space” to create policy.

The refusal came after Labour MP and Brexit committee member Seema Malhotra asked to know the scope and reference terms of the reports, which cover 90 per cent of the economy.

Malhotra also asked about the state of completion of each of the studies, which look at major industries such as agriculture, aerospace, and textiles.

However the department refused to disclose any of the reports’ details.

The Department for Exiting the EU said: “There is a strong public interest in policy-making associated with our exit from the EU being of the highest quality and conducted in a safe space to allow for design and deliberation to be done in private.

“In this case, releasing the commissioning document for this exercise, which is still a live policy issue, may undermine the effective formulation or development of policies which are key to our negotiating strategy.”

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said May’s administration is keeping the papers secret to prevent public questioning of their Brexit strategy and to stop Parliament fulfilling “its duty of keeping checks and balances on the government”.

“Our members and the public deserve to know what these papers’ say about the impact on their livelihoods from leaving the EU. The government’s need for a “safe space” is nothing to do with creating policies and everything to do with hiding the full extent of the damage that could be caused by their shambolic mishandling of the Brexit negotiations,” Turner said.

“It is painfully obvious that the Tory Brextremists that have choke hold on their party are prepared to throw the country under a bus in pursuit of a Brexit that alienates us from our biggest trading partners and turns the UK into a deregulated tax haven.

“The government is refusing to publish the studies because it knows they will check these destructive tendencies by allowing right and proper democratic scrutinies.”

Turner added: “For all its talk of sovereignty the government is intent on keeping Parliament and the public in the dark about the most serious challenge Britain has faced in peace time.

“The government wishes to do as it pleases over Brexit, even if that means hurting people’s living standards and damaging the economy. For the sake of the country, it must release the studies and allow Parliament to fulfil its duty of keeping checks and balances on the government.”

The refusal came at the same time as Unite provided its submission to the House of Lord’s European Union select committee Brexit enquiry.

The union called on the Brexit department to release the sectoral Brexit impact assessments, saying that the union’s 1.4 million members, and the wider public, must be able to judge the government’s own analysis.

Read Unite’s submission in full here.