Brexit impact assessments debate

Catherine spoke in yesterday’s Opposition Day debate about the Government’s impact assessments of the potential effect of leaving the EU on different sectors of the UK’s economy.

You can read a full copy of her speech – cut short due to time restrictions – below, and a full transcript of the debate is available here.  Catherine also made this intervention earlier in the debate about impact assessments that have been carried out on the effect of Britain leaving the EU on each region, including the North East.

Catherine McKinnell: The Government’s position on this issue is hugely symbolic.

Ministers’ unwillingness to furnish a Committee of this House with basic information is a symbol of a Government in trouble, seeking to avoid proper scrutiny and challenge by elected Members of this Parliament.

The Government’s position on the motion is also symbolic of what is entirely wrong with this Government’s approach to Brexit, and how we find our country moving through this historic process since the referendum.

Last year, as the Prime Minister came to power, she found herself leading a nation that was clearly divided on the subject. The Government should have been straining – and should be straining – every sinew to bring this country back together, but instead we have an unelected Prime Minister, determined to press ahead with a who-knows-what Brexit regardless of the consequences for different parts of the country and sectors of the economy.

The Government are willing to do this with as little scrutiny as possible, with Ministers taking a “Whitehall knows best” approach to a process that will profoundly impact this country for decades to come. Instead of bringing the country back together, this total lack of transparency and engagement with people’s very real concerns is serving only to create further distrust and division.

Why is that important to the North East? Well, we know that the Government have undertaken the modelling of the impacts on different regions. It has been reported that the Department for Exiting the European Union has carried out analysis that concludes that the North East of England and Scotland will be the region and country worst affected. It stands to reason, because 60% of our exports go to the EU and we rely on millions of pounds in agricultural, structural, social and university funding.

We were told loudly and clearly last year that leaving the EU was about taking back control and that voting to leave would ensure the primacy of this sovereign Parliament. Instead, we now have a minority Government determined to obfuscate at every stage, overriding parliamentary democracy at every opportunity. This must end today.

Following yesterday’s debate, the Commons unanimously carried the binding Labour motion:

‘That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, That she will be graciously pleased to give directions that the list of sectors analysed under the instruction of Her Majesty’s Ministers, and referred to in the Answer of 26 June 2017 to Question 239, be laid before this House and that the impact assessments arising from those analyses be provided to the Committee on Exiting the European Union.’