The Department for Exiting the European Union revealed earlier in the week that it had carried out 58 assessments of the impact Britain could have on most sectors. But it argued that there was a “strong public interest” against publishing them, as officials said policymaking over Britain’s departure needed to be “conducted in a safe space to allow for design and deliberation to be done in private”. The European Commission adopts a similar approach to negotiations. “When entering into a game, no-one starts by revealing his entire strategy to his counterpart from the outset: this is also the case for the EU,” it says.
Nevertheless, Labour hopes to force the Government this evening to publish these papers by making use of an arcane parliamentary procedure – inviting MPs to vote to call on the Queen to request that her ministers publish the documents. David Davis pointed out yesterday that MPs voted in December to allow the Government not to release anything “which undermines the negotiation or the national interest”. However, Dominic Grieve and Ken Clarke have made clear they want the studies to be published. One Tory told the Sun that they’d need “ some persuading not to” back Sir Keir Starmer’s motion this evening, so the Opposition could peel off a good few Conservatives. If so, it will be up to the DUP to save the Government from embarrassment.
The vote is expected to take place at 7pm. Labour believes it would be binding on ministers, but the Telegraph understands that it would be up to the Government to decide how to respond. Arch-Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith told Radio 5 today that he didn’t want the papers to come out until “after you’ve completed negotiations”. Michael Deacon thought ministers were conceal the papers, given that their findings were either “extremely good” or “possibly bad”. “If campaigners do force the Government to come clean, I for one will refuse to read the studies, and urge all decent patriots to do the same.”
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