Reveal Secret Brexit Reports or We’ll Sue You, U.K. Is Warned

  • Campaigners give government 14 days to publish impact studies
  • ‘We must be able to say what Brexit means,’ says lawyer

Ex-Amb. Says U.K. Must Flip Way of Thinking on EU

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Opponents of Brexit said they would sue the British government if it fails to release internal reports into the impact of leaving the European Union on different parts of the economy.

The Good Law Project, run by tax attorney Jolyon Maugham, and Molly Scott Cato, a member of the European Parliament, have written to the Department for Exiting the EU asking for the studies to be released within 14 days.

Jolyon Maugham

Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

“It is not right that they be hidden from public view,” said Maugham, a vocal opponent of Brexit who has already filed lawsuits over the government’s plans for quitting the 28-nation bloc. “We must be able to see what Brexit means.”

The U.K.’s talks with the EU have reached a deadlock, increasing the risk of a no-deal, which may cost as much as $15,000 per worker, according to estimates by Rabobank. Meanwhile, ministers in Theresa May’s government have tried to sound upbeat about both the negotiations and the country’s economic prospects outside of the EU.

While the EU has held fast to its position that the ball is in the U.K.’s court, May’s government is pinning hopes on European leaders at a summit in Brussels next week making concessions that would break the deadlock.

For the EU, the U.K. still hasn’t clarified sufficiently enough how it plans to protect EU citizens’ rights in the U.K. and what future role the bloc’s top court will play. These remain key stumbling blocks and EU officials already dashed any hopes the U.K. may have had that European leaders next week would give her approval to start negotiating the two sides’ future relationship.

Florence Speech

With the U.K.’s departure from the EU is 18 months away, officials have yet to come to an agreement even on the priority separation issues, let alone what a post-Brexit future will look like. While Prime Minister May’s speech in Italy last month started to break through the deadlock, EU officials say they are still in the dark about many details on where the U.K. might be willing to compromise.

The Good Law Project is seeking the publication of 57 studies that cover 85 percent of the economy, referred to by chief Brexit negotiator David Davis in December, and also a Treasury Department report comparing the predicted economic benefits of alternative free trade agreements.

A prominent tax lawyer, Maugham has emerged as one of the most potent voices against the U.K.’s looming European exit. Last year, he raised 10,000 pounds ($13,300) in a crowdfunding campaign for an ultimately successful challenge to May’s plan to start the formal process for Brexit, an Article 50 notice, without first holding a vote in Parliament.

His next project, a lawsuit in Ireland that sought to establish a last-minute Brexit-escape clause, was abandoned in May.

— With assistance by Stephanie Bodoni

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