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Tuesday 04 June 2019

Penman: The Government must publish details of no-deal Brexit

Graham Martin

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman has urged the Government to "put aside the convention of confidentiality", to help better inform the public about the reality of a no-deal Brexit.

In his latest Civil Service World column, Penman argues that "it's time for the full analysis and advice to individual ministers to be published."

It is not a position he has taken lightly, noting that confidentiality "allows the civil service to provide its advice and let ministers decide without the full glare of public scrutiny."

"We are, however," he continues, "in the middle of 'interesting times'. After the resignation of two prime ministers and nearly 40 ministers, a general election, an EU parliamentary election where the winners may never take their seats and billions of pounds spent on preparing for not just no deal, but any number of other options, it’s clear the country and parliament are still deadlocked."

In "these circumstances and these circumstances alone", he explains, it is imperative to break with convention. By making the private analysis part of the public domain "potential prime ministers and their cheerleaders can challenge, criticise and debate it to their hearts’ content, but they won’t be able to hide from it."

"Maybe the civil service got it wrong. Maybe a WTF Brexit will deliver the sunny uplands its supporters have promised," Penman muses. He concludes, however, that "the only thing I can be sure of, given the unprecedented mess we’re currently in, is that it can’t do any harm to have a better-informed electorate and more accountable political leadership. Who knows, it might even do some good."

Read the full column here.

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