Labour ramps up pressure over Brexit impact studies

Labour has ramped up its calls for the government to release full details of how Brexit will affect UK agriculture and other industry sectors.

Farming, food and drink is among 58 sectors of the UK economy that have been scrutinised in a series of Brexit impact studies by the government.

Farm leaders have argued that ongoing uncertainty over the effects of Brexit threatens to undermine the ability of growers and livestock producers to plan their businesses.

See also: How to review your farm business to prepare for Brexit

The government initially refused to release details of the studies – arguing that doing so would jeopardise the UK’s negotiating position during EU exit talks.

But it was forced to back down after a parliamentary vote on 1 November.

The government has now sent an 800-page document containing the results of the economic studies to the House of Commons Brexit select committee – but parts have been redacted.

Brexit secretary David Davis continues to insist that any information deemed market-sensitive must remain confidential.


However, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer argues that Mr Davis could be in contempt of parliament for withholding the information.

Sir Keir asked the government to make a statement about the issue in the House of Commons on Tuesday (28 November).

In response, Brexit minister Robin Walker said the government considered it had complied with parliament’s wishes in relation to the documents.

Mr Walker said the government had also initiated discussions to ensure they would be made available to all MPs in a reading room.


The documents did not exist in the form requested and there had been some misunderstanding about what the sectoral analysis consisted of.

“It is not a series of 58 impact assessments,” said Mr Walker.

It was a range of qualitative and quantitative analysis contained in a range of different documents produced at different times since the EU referendum.

The government has a responsibility to consider whether it would be in the public interest for the information to be published, especially as it contains confidential analysis.

“Parliament has endorsed the responsibility of ministers not to release information that would undermine our negotiating position,” said Mr Walker.

“Contrary to what has been asserted in some places, the committee did not give any firm assurances that what was passed to them would not subsequently be published in full.”