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Next step in calls to see secret Brexit studies

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The Good Law Project, Green, MEP, Molly Scott Cato, secret, Brexit studies, legal challenge, How can our democratic representatives make decisions when the government is withholding vital information?

MEP Molly Scott Cato, who has been pressing for the release of ‘50 secret studies’ on the impacts of Brexit on the economy, is now demanding the government disclose the documents or face legal action.

Following several unsuccessful attempts to obtain the details of the studies, including one Freedom of Information request, Scott Cato has teamed up with The Good Law Project to demand the government release the studies within 14 days.

In a letter to the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) and HM Treasury, they warn that failure to do so will result in the issue of judicial review proceedings before the High Court, which would seek to compel the government to release them.

Two classes of study are being sought: first, those mentioned by David Davis MP to the Commons Committee on Exiting the EU on 14 December last year: “our 57 studies cover 85 per cent of the economy—everything except sectors that are not affected by international trade”.

The Department for Exiting the European Union has repeatedly promised to publish the list of studies “shortly” but has not done so.

And, second, a report prepared by HM Treasury comparing the predicted economic detriment of Brexit with the predicted economic benefits of alternative free trade agreements.

The Freedom Of Information (FoI) request Scott Cato made in September has been turned down, but in their official response, the government did acknowledge the existence of the 50 studies – while refusing to publish them.

Scott Cato, who is Green Party speaker on Brexit as well as Green MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar, said: “The European referendum was all about taking back control but how can our democratic representatives make decisions in our interests when the government is withholding vital information?

“It has been clear for some time that the attempt to keep the Brexit impact studies secret is more to cover the government’s blushes than to enable efficient law-making.

“The rule of law requires that MPs know what Brexit really means before they formally vote for our withdrawal.”

Jolyon Maugham QC believes that the government may well have a duty under common law to release the studies.

“This is our government, it must act in our interests, and we must be free to scrutinise it to ensure that it does” Maugham said.

“These studies will inform decisions which will have a profound impact on our futures.

“There is a clear legal and principled case to say that these studies should not be hidden from public view.”

This new challenge comes in the week that 120 cross-party MPs signed a letter to the government demanding the studies be released immediately.

The Good Law Project has launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund the costs of the judicial review proceedings.

And a petition has been set up calling on the government to publish its own Brexit Impact/Risk Assessments.

Feel free to share either or both of these widely.

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