Back in October of last year we wrote to the Chancellor and the Brexit Secretary asking for two types of document: the sectoral studies mentioned by David Davis to a Commons Select Committee in December 2016 and a Treasury document weighing the hoped for benefits of crafting trade deals with the rest of the world against the certain costs of what the Prime Minister now admits will be diminished access to our biggest market, the EU.
What the Government knew to be the economic consequences of leaving the EU we believed we, too, had the right to know. It is not for the political elites to leave the people in the dark about the future of their country.
You funded us and we threatened and then initiated judicial review proceedings. Last week, on Tuesday, the High Court refused us permission but we said we would appeal.
However, on Thursday, the Exiting the EU Select Committee published a document from January 2018: the “EU Exit Analysis Cross Whitehall Briefing.” It contained, in particular, a summary of the sectoral studies we had sought (see slide 10). And it incorporated the Treasury’s work from earlier last year into a later and more sophisticated summary of the trade effects of Brexit (see slides 14 and 16).
So the information now in the public domain – albeit only in summary form – appears to be more up to date than that which we were seeking. In the circumstances we have concluded that little purpose would be served by us continuing with our appeal.
This battle was won by political pressure – and particular credit must go to the Opposition Parties. But the litigation helped keep the Government under pressure and maintained a focus on your right to know.
We played our part – with your help.
We are hugely grateful to Timothy Pitt-Payne QC and Robin Hopkins of 11 King’s Bench Walk. And to Three Crowns LLP who graciously agreed to support this important piece of public interest litigation free of charge. We are also enormously grateful to our expert witnesses Alasdair Smith, Swati Dhingra and Maurice Frankel. They, too, acted without charge.
We have asked for an account of our costs and we will publish when we receive it. In accordance with the undertaking we gave here, any surplus funds will be held for the costs of other litigation.
Molly Scott Cato MEP
Jolyon Maugham QC (Good Law Project)