- Government set to release Brexit impact papers after Labour stages parliamentary ambush.
- MPs vote for Theresa May to release assessments of how Brexit could affect 58 sectors of the British economy.
- Conservative MPs told to abstain from vote amid fears of a humiliating defeat.
LONDON — The UK government is set to publish a series of papers showing how Brexit will impact 58 sectors of the British economy after Labour successfully staged a Commons vote on forcing the research to be released.
The Brexit department, led by David Davis, has refused to publish the Brexit impact papers, claiming it would “breach the safe space” of government policy-making. The 58 sectors in question account for around 88% of the economy.
However, on Wednesday night Labour’s shadow Brexit Secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, used an archaic parliamentary procedure to impose a binding vote on Theresa May’s government, which was passed by the House of Commons.
Conservative MPs were instructed to abstain from the vote amid fears that enough Tories would side with Labour to inflict an embarrassing defeat on the government.
Speaking to Business Insider before last night’s vote, Starmer described the government’s refusal to publish the papers as a “mockery” of the Brexit process and an affront to “transparency and accountability.”
“Obviously, we’ve got to be careful not to publish anything that would undermine our negotiating position. But at the moment, the government’s position is a complete lockdown,” the Labour MP told BI.
“Not one paragraph, not one sentence, not one word of any of these assessments.”
He added: “Until two days ago, they weren’t even prepared to publish the list of sectors they have looked at. It’s very difficult to justify that.”
The government is now expected to publish the papers in some form. It is not yet known whether the assessments will be released in full. Government sources denied they would be published in redacted form, the Times reports.
There were strange scenes in Parliament yesterday as confused MPs questioned whether the vote indeed had a binding effect. In a surreal moment, staunch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said the vote ought to be binding, citing a historic Canadian parliament reference.
House Deputy Speaker, Eleanor Laing, eventually said she believed the vote had a binding effect, telling MPs: “I would say only that a motion of this kind has in the past been seen as effective or binding.”
Government sources told the Times that the unreleased papers contain no assessments of a no-deal Brexit but rather wider analysis of different types of Brexit. Prime Minister May has vowed to remove Britain from both the European single market and customs union as part of its departure from the EU.
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