UK Government says publishing Brexit impact reports would undermine policy-making

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 31 October 2017 in News

Responding to a Freedom of Information request from Labour MP Seema Malhotra, the UK Brexit department claimed the publication of the 58 documents would undermine policy creation

Image credit: PA

The UK Government has refused to publish key details of a set of controversial Brexit impact assessments on the basis that officials need a “safe space” to make policy.

The Government yesterday published a list of the sectors covered in the 58 documents but refused to provide any more information on how they would be impacted.

But responding to a Freedom of Information request from Labour MP Seema Malhotra, the UK Brexit department claimed the publication of the 58 documents would undermine policy creation.

“There is a strong public interest in policy-making associated with our exit from the EU being of the highest quality and conducted in a safe space to allow for design and deliberation to be done in private,” the department said in response to the request.

 “In this case, releasing the commissioning document for this exercise, which is still a live policy issue, may undermine the effective formulation or development of policies which are key to our negotiating strategy.

“Disclosure would similarly set a precedent that would inhibit free and frank discussion in the future. Without the necessary safe space for unreserved instruction in commissioning briefs, the quality of the eventual advice from the respective exercise would be diminished and would in turn lead to poorer decision making.”

The department said it would prefer to release the documents in an “organised and efficient manner” than through FoI.

Malhotra said: “The Government’s reference to needing to conduct Brexit policy-making in a ‘safe place to allow for design and deliberation to be done in private’ seems to be more about keeping parliament and the public in the dark,” she said.

“Parliament is not here to give the government a blank cheque on Brexit, but to assist in achieving the best deal for our economy and society.”

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