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The government has refused a freedom of information request to publish analysis into how Brexit will impact on 58 different sectors. The freedom of information request was made by Labour MP Seema Malhotra and is accompanied by a letter signed by 120 cross-party MPs urging the government to make the findings of their extensive analysis public.
The government has only gone as far as to publish a list of the industries that have been investigated, which includes the steel and aerospace industries. According to the Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU), “There is a strong public interest in policymaking 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.”
This is being interpreted as an effort to keep parliament out of the negotiations, but there is also speculation that the findings might embarrass the government. Malhotra 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.”
Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato has threatened legal action against ministers following the decision to keep the information private. Speaking to the Independent, she said: “If the government think that producing a list of sectors will satisfy, they can think again. This will do nothing to reassure businesses, public services or the public or help them prepare for life outside the EU.”
This is unfortunate timing for the Department for Exiting the European Union as Brexit Secretary David Davis is set to brief the cabinet on the possibility of a “no-deal” Brexit. A spokesperson for DexEU said: “The Department for Exiting the European Union, working with officials across government, continues to undertake a wide range of analysis to support progress in the negotiations and ensure we ready for Brexit whatever the outcome.” There is increasing fear that the Brexit talks are not progressing and that the only option might be to leave the EU without a formal deal in place.
The implications of this could be far-reaching. According to Chancellor Philip Hammond, this could result in flights being grounded, although this has been disputed by the boss of British Airways who remains confident that a deal with be reached on air travel, even in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit. Other industries likely to be affected include the finance sector, which warned of the long-term loss of up to 75,000 jobs in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit.