High Court refuses to force government’s hand over Brexit impact studies

The High Court has this morning refused permission for judicial review to compel the government to release its Brexit impact studies. Molly Scott Cato MEP and Jolyon Maugham QC of the Good Law Project have been pressing for the release of impact studies on 58 sectors of the economy and a report prepared by HM Treasury, comparing the predicted economic detriment of Brexit with the potential benefits of alternative free trade arrangements [1].

Molly and Mr Maugham argued at today’s hearing that full public release of the studies are “of very considerable importance in informing public debate about the current negotiations regarding the UK’s proposed departure from the European Union [2].” However, the High Court judge, Justice Supperstone, argued that an adequate alternative remedy exists, namely through Freedom of Information (FoI) requests.

Responding to the verdict, Molly said:

“This is incredibly disappointing. So many attempts to release these studies through Freedom of Information requests have already been attempted and refused. British people are being denied access to evidence about the impact of Brexit on their lives.

“Rightly, for any major infrastructure scheme like a new road or runway, a publicly available impact study is taken as read. But apparently, it’s OK to drag a nation through one of the biggest changes in our lifetimes without allowing people to understand the consequences.

“Today’s verdict gives the government a green light to continue hiding these studies on the economic impacts of Brexit from the public. The Buzzfeed leak a few weeks ago did reveal  – in part at least – some of the impact assessments we had been requesting. But this information has not, of course, been made fully available to the public. The leak also showed why the government is so keen to keep a lid on this information. It revealed that in every possible Brexit scenario the UK will be worse off economically that it would be if it remained a member of the EU.”


[1] See previous releases, letters and articles relating to the Brexit impact studies here:

[2] See Claimants Grounds for Seeking Reconsideration