Only 16 MPs and peers have read Brexit analysis documents, claims Leadsom

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom

Just 16 MPs and peers have read the government's Brexit analysis papers, Andrea Leadsom claimed today.

The Commons Leader, Brexiteer and brief candidate for the Tory leadership bemoaned the opposition for causing "enormous headlines and publicity" before adding "only 16 members across both Houses" had viewed them.

A reading room has been established to allow MPs and peers access to the 850-page dossier of information provided by Brexit secretary David Davis.

The documents outline the economic impact of Brexit on 58 different sectors and were released following a binding vote earlier this month in the Commons.

But the government has been criticised after Mr Davis admitted his department had carried out no formal impact assessments, with concerns also raised about the quality of the information in the dossier.

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Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz challenged Mrs Leadsom over the "invisible papers" and criticised the "secretive" viewing process.

She told MPs: "It's highly bizarre.

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"Members have to make an appointment, have to arrive five minutes early, you then get escorted to look at the papers by a Government official, you can't take a mobile phone in, you have to take a notebook, and presumably we're given a stubby pencil or maybe a pen with invisible ink.

"That is completely bizarre. We are elected representatives, we are entitled to see the papers."

"If there is nothing in the papers, why is it so secretive? But the biggest why is why has the Government not conducted the impact assessments when this is affecting 88% of our economy?"

Mrs Leadsom replied: "The opposition have absolutely caused enormous headlines and publicity over this issue.

"The House will be interested to know the sum total of 16 members of this House and the House of Lords have taken the trouble to see that analysis that has been made available.

"Of course it's very important, as all honourable members should respect, that the freedom of civil servants to discuss freely and give advice freely to ministers must be upheld.

"That is why it's important these reports are held in a confidential and secure way so those that have a need and an interest in reading them can do so.

"But I say again, only 16 members across both Houses have availed themselves of that opportunity."

SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart said: "These are analysis papers that simultaneously detail 50 to 60 sector impacts while at the same time not existing at all - it's Schrödinger's Brexit analysis papers."

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