Wednesday 18 September 2019

UK 'is hiding the unpleasant realities' in Brexit dossiers

Jeremy Hunt wants more reassurance on the backstop. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Jeremy Hunt wants more reassurance on the backstop. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Harriet Line

The British government's Brexit department has been accused of hiding the "unpleasant realities" of leaving the EU from the public, as new analysis suggested it answered only a fifth of Freedom of Information requests in full.

Research by the People's Vote campaign for a second referendum found the Department for Exiting the European Union refused to release any information for more than half of all requests, and only answered 21pc in full between July 2016 and June 2017 - the lowest percentage of FOI requests granted in full across the UK government.

The Cabinet Office, Department for International Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which all also deal with Brexit, answered 26pc, 25pc and 23pc respectively of requests in full.

People's Vote found the Whitehall average to be 44pc.

Labour MP Peter Kyle, a supporter of the People's Vote campaign, said: "The government's astonishing lack of transparency around Brexit is a national scandal, and is part of the reason we've ended up in the mess we're in now.

"The government departments charged with dealing directly with Brexit are deliberately obfuscating and hiding the many unpleasant realities of the process from the public.

"The truth they're trying to hide is that the government's proposed Brexit would severely harm our economy and is much worse than our existing deal inside the EU.

"I have written to the chief executive of the civil service to demand urgent answers, because the British public deserve to have all the information about Brexit available.

"Because of the failure to be open and transparent, the public has lost confidence in the government's ability to handle the Brexit process properly."

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has urged the EU to provide further assurances over the Irish Border backstop if Theresa May's Brexit deal is to get through parliament.

Mr Hunt said he believes the backstop is the only "outstanding issue" and can be solved, noting the EU has agreed it is temporary and the UK needs it to define "what temporary is".

Irish Independent

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