Molly Scott Cato, Bristol's Green MEP, who has been challenging ministers to release secret government studies into the impacts of Brexit, has accused the government of running scared of its own findings.
The accusation comes following a letter from Steve Baker, Undersecretary of State for exiting the EU, in which he states that it would be inappropriate to publish the analysis that would risk damaging the UK’s negotiating position. Responding, Molly, who is Green Party speaker on Brexit, said:
“To conceal studies under the guise that it weakens the government's negotiating position can mean only one thing: that the studies reveal Brexit will have a negative impact on the UK. If the findings were in any way positive and backed-up their hard Brexit folly, or strengthened their negotiating hand, you can bet they would have been released long ago. The government is running scared. It knows that the impacts of Brexit will be disastrous for our economy.”
Mr Baker acknowledged that the government has conducted an analysis of over 50 sectors of the economy, and for the first time, stated that these studies include financial services, agriculture, energy, retail, infrastructure, and transport.
The government has repeatedly been asked to list the sectors it has analysed. In June, in answer to a parliamentary question, the government said it would publish the list ‘shortly’, but to date, no such list has been made available.
Green MP, Caroline Lucas, also asked a parliamentary question on whether the impact studies have reached a different conclusion on the UK’s membership of the single market to studies carried out by the government in 2013. The studies, known as the Balance of Competences, concluded that membership of the single market resulted in the GDP of both the EU and UK being ‘appreciably greater than they otherwise would be’ and that ‘integration has brought… appreciable economic benefits.’ The government refused to answer, again arguing that to publish anything would undermine the UK’s ability to negotiate the best deal for the UK. Molly concluded:
“This is a government in total chaos, riven with internal conflict and division and choosing to feed people fanciful nonsense about life outside the EU rather than reveal the truth about its reckless Brexit escapade. Communities, businesses, and public services need confidence in our long-term planning and this can only be achieved through open, transparent decision-making. The government should come clean and let everyone see exactly what the likely impacts of Brexit on our economy will be.”
Molly is currently awaiting a response to a freedom of information request for further details of a leaked study into the impacts of Brexit on the NHS. The study, undertaken by the Department of Health, suggests Brexit could result in a shortage of more than 40,000 nurses by 2026. A petition set up by the European Movement, calling on the Government to publish impact studies has reached almost 18,000 signatures.