Forcing the Government to publish Brexit impact reports

On Wednesday 1st November the House of Commons voted unanimously for a motion tabled by the Labour Party calling on the Government to publish the impact assessments that the Department for Exiting the European Union have carried out into the economic impact of leaving the European Union.

I am delighted with this result, having first asked the Government to publish these impact reports on 5th September and led 120 Members of Parliament in calling for their publication alongside my colleague Seema Malhotra MP.

I will continue to hold the Government to account on their promises on Brexit and call for transparency and openness throughout this process to show that the Government is hiding bad news and false promises about Brexit.

You can read the speech that I gave in the debate on the 1st November below, or on Hansard here.

It is great to participate in a debate that is demonstrating the sovereignty of this Parliament.

I first started asking questions on this issue on 5th September, using that sovereignty and my role as an MP to raise these issues. My hon. Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra) made a freedom of information request, again using her ability as an elected Member to get to the truth. We now see my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) assert the sovereignty of this House by dragging the Government to the House to raise these issues.

We have heard from Select Committee Chairs, an important institution in this House, that they could well consider this information. They understand that some of it may be redacted, but it all goes to the issue of a sovereign Parliament: we cannot argue for taking back control and then seek to thwart the will of this Parliament, its Select Committees and hon. Members, to get to the heart of the truth.

I want to see the impact assessments, because there are things in them that I expect to read. I expect to read that the health service is going to do a lot with the £350 million. I look forward to seeing it. I expect to read, as we heard during the referendum campaign, that we do not need to worry about a skills gap because there are lots of people in our country who are going to step into those roles.

I look forward to seeing what the ​Department for Work and Pensions makes of the assessment on skills, along with its colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. I look forward to hearing what assessment has been made by the Home Office of whether, when we have limited free movement and we ask the Indians for a trade deal, they will ask whether they can have visas.

For all those reasons, it is important to understand whether the arguments that have been put forward by many Conservative Members are actually made in those impact assessments.

However, the real reason this is important is the seriousness of this debate. As night follows day, it will mostly not be us in this Chamber who suffer or struggle as a consequence of any shift in our economy. It is people’s jobs and livelihoods and how they feed their children that matters, and for that reason, we must see those impact assessments. It is a crying shame that this process began because of parliamentary questions and freedom of information requests, and not because the Government felt able to be open.

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