Gloomy Brexit Report: MPs stage walkout

29 Mar 2017 | By Anupama Vijayakumar

Pro-Brexit MPs "politely walked out" of a meeting of the Brexit Select Committee after a report presented was deemed "too gloomy".

According to sources, Committee Chairman Hilary Benn, "tried to bounce the members into accepting the report into the government's Brexit White Paper".

Sources further suggested that the skewed report, highlighting the negatives of Brexit was not prepared with proper consultation.

In context: Negotiating the Brexit: Britain still differs on priorities

29 Mar 2017Gloomy Brexit Report: MPs stage walkout

BackgroundBrexit: A Primer

Brexit, triggered by a referendum conducted in June 2016, saw 51.9% of British population voting for Britain to leave the EU. The UK Parliament in February voted in favour of triggering the Article 50 process to withdraw from the Union.

The current row happens, as Britain with a toughened stance completes its domestic preparations, including setting of goals to enter withdrawal negotiations with EU.

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The Article 50 process

Article 50, part of the Lisbon Treaty 2009, consisting of five paragraphs, stipulates that a country wishing to leave must notify the European Council and thereafter negotiate the withdrawal, with two years to reach an agreement, provided no consensual extensions are made.

FocusKey issues in negotiations

The Brexit white paper outlining the negotiating goals of the British government covers aspects including sovereignty, border control and trade.

Both the EU and the UK are in favour of win-win outcomes within trade, a central issue within the negotiations. Voices within Britain still differ on the economic impact of having no deal with the EU versus staying with it, accepting free movement stipulations.

AboutExiting the European Union Committee

The 'Exiting the European Union' Committee appointed by the House of Commons consists of 21 members from six major parties including Labour and Conservatives. The Committee is mandated to scrutinize various aspects of Britain's policy to exit the EU, including administration and expenditure.

Mr.Benn, a remain supporter, beat fellow labour MP, Kate Hoey, a leave supporter in October for the post of Chairman.

Parliamentary Select Committees

Parliamentary Select Committees, mandated to scrutinize and check on various areas of governmental activity, and are often known to be split on party lines. Having increased in profile in the recent years, they are known to produce "minority reports" reflecting the majority view.
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ProtestDeal or no deal

The Hilary Benn Report was to go into the Brexit White Paper. Tory MPs termed it, as the "Ivan Rogers Report", prepared overwhelmingly on the basis of evidence provided by the former UK ambassador to the EU and a remain campaigner.

The draft report was also noted to be highly critical of the "no deal with EU" option, proposed by David Davis, Brexit Secretary.

AnalysisHow could this affect the Brexit negotiations?

The walkout raises questions on the ability of the Committee to move ahead, without being able to facilitate consensus. Deeply split nature of the debate points to hurdles in forming a unanimous report without making substantial changes leaning one way or the other.

This further brings up questions concerning the future of the UK-EU relationship especially with respect to trade and free movement.