Labour is attempting to force a House of Commons vote ordering the Government to publish 58 studies into the economic impact of Brexit.

The party is staging an Opposition Day debate on Wednesday calling on ministers to hand over the information to stop what it calls “a blank cheque for a Tory Brexit”.

However, there is no guarantee Labour will be successful in forcing a vote.

In recent weeks the Government has ordered Tory MPs not to vote against Labour motions.

In a bid to thwart that tactic, Labour says its motion will use a procedure that gives the Commons the power to require ministers to release Government papers to Parliament.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer claims that unlike typical Opposition Day debates, the Labour motion – if passed – will be binding on the Government.

“This debate is about transparency and accountability,” said Sir Keir.

“Ministers cannot keep withholding vital information from Parliament about the impact of Brexit on jobs and the economy.

“Labour recognises the importance of protecting the Government’s negotiating position with the EU.

“However, that does not give ministers the right to impose a blanket ban on publishing any information whatsoever about the economic impact of Brexit.

“At the start of the negotiations, Theresa May said everyone needed certainty during the Brexit process and that the vote to leave was a vote for Parliament to take back control.

“If those words meant anything at all, then she should stop sidelining Parliament and give MPs the information they need to properly hold the Government to account.”

David Davis
David Davis believes releasing the studies could undermine negotiations

Giving evidence to the House of Lords EU Committee on Tuesday, Brexit Secretary David Davis repeated the Government’s position that it would not publish the papers, which he said was backed by MPs in a Commons vote last year.

He told peers: “There was a House of Commons vote in December of last year where we said that we are not required to release anything which undermines the negotiation or the national interest frankly, or the negotiating stance of the British Government.

“That is the reasoning behind it.”

The impact assessments produced by the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) cover industrial sectors ranging from advertising, aerospace and agriculture to telecommunications, textiles and tourism.

But Mr Davis said their importance should not be exaggerated.

“I don’t think you should overestimate what’s in them,” he told peers.

“They’re not economic models of each sector, they are looking at how much of it depends on EU markets versus other markets, what other opportunities may be, what the regulatory structures are, all those sorts of things that inform the negotiation, but they are not predictions.”

Labour is demanding the papers be released to the House of Commons’ Brexit Committee, which would then have the right to review the materials and determine what information is put in the public domain.

Sir Keir says that if the Government opposes the Labour motion it is saying the committee, which has a Conservative majority, cannot be trusted with the impact assessments.

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Backing Labour’s demands, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The Government must come clean on the impact Brexit will have on people’s jobs and livelihoods.

“It’s a poor excuse to say the secrecy is needed for negotiations.

“The EU 27 will have the same information already from work by their own officials. The only people being kept in the dark are the British public.

“The longer that ministers hide the truth, the more people will believe it’s to bury bad news.”

A letter signed by 120 MPs, including the Tories’ former attorney general Dominic Grieve, previously called on Mr Davis to publish the studies.

The Government has also been threatened with legal action over its refusal to release the papers.