Critics have accused the UK government of deliberately leaving out "politically embarrassing" information from the 58 documents it has prepared to examine the effect leaving the European Union will have across a range of British businesses.
The decision by Brexit minister David Davis to omit certain information from the key analyses has prompted opposition parties to raise the matter in an emergency question to the House of Commons on Tuesday, November 28, with the possibility of contempt charges being actively considered against the minister.
The story has been discussed by politicians and commentators on social media.
This stinks of a cover-up, pure and simple. Ministers don’t want the public to know the facts on the impact of Brexit. This has less to do with any supposed undermining of negotiations and everything to do with pulling the wool over people’s eyes. Totally and utterly unacceptable https://t.co/5w8k6atRQC— Chuka Umunna (@ChukaUmunna) November 27, 2017
3 weeks ago I wrote to the Speaker about this Government being in ‘contempt of Parliament’. They were given 3 weeks to meet the conditions of the Brexit analysis papers motion. This morning it is clear they’ve failed. https://t.co/cXEegIcG4r— Pete Wishart (@PeteWishart) November 28, 2017
So while everyone is looking at Prince Harry getting engaged David Davis has said the secret Brexit reports he was supposed to release in full aren't complete and some info has been removed — full picture being hidden.— Shehab Khan (@ShehabKhan) November 27, 2017
“This stinks of a cover-up”#Government releases only heavily redacted versions of the #Brexit impact assessments.— Richard Corbett (@RCorbettMEP) November 27, 2017
What are they hiding?
Shouldn't public be told about the likely impact of #brexitreality?
Is #CostOfBrexit rising further?https://t.co/gPT1IpIzCw via @BIfrance
David Davis running scared of Parliament, sending Robin Walker in his place to answer Urgent Question on government's failure to fully publish Brexit impact assessment reports— Lib Dem Press Office (@LibDemPress) November 28, 2017
In an interview, Adam Garrie, managing editor of The Duran, described the latest Brexit developments as yet another blow to a "scarecrow" government.
"On the one hand, most discerning members of the public know that the economy is already in trouble and this is just based on the speculation about 'how bad Brexit is going to be.' Under any circumstances, a big change like Brexit would create economic jitters, but the reason that it is now almost inevitably going to be a disaster is because of the disastrous incompetence of the current UK government. The fact that there are so many redactions in the document, shows that the government does not want ordinary people to have the information that they are privy to. It smacks of elitism and also of shame. It is yet another blow to a scarecrow government."
The benevolent interpretation of the move is that the UK government have hidden material potentially useful to the other side in the negotiations or want to avoid putting what may be rather speculative analyses in the public domain, especially where there is considerable uncertainty about what sort of deal can be done, Professor Iain Begg, at the European Institute of the London School of Economics and Political Science told Sputnik.
"But the more likely reason is to disguise potentially awkward estimates of damage to certain sectors and the economy as a whole," he added.
The Brexit minister David Davis insisted earlier he was withholding the information because he had "received no assurances from the (Brexit) committee regarding how any information passed will be used."
Seema Malhotra, a Labour MP, said that publishing the material that had been edited was "against the spirit and the letter of parliament's motion."
"It seems like the government has already decided what should and should not bee seen by editing them before sending the impact studies to the select committee," she said.
Support has also been forthcoming from Jacob Rees-Mogg, an influential Brexit supporting MP, who said the parliament's vote to release these impact studies should be considered binding. He warned the government was in "serious consitutional waters" if it doesn't provide the full information to the select committee.