Pro-Brexit MPs storm out of meeting to protest 'gloomy' report about life after the EU

Theresa May triggers Article 50 on Wednesday

Tom Batchelor,Joe Watts
Tuesday 28 March 2017 19:26 BST
People hold banners during a demonstration against Britain's decision to leave the European Union
People hold banners during a demonstration against Britain's decision to leave the European Union (Reuters)

Brexit-backing MPs have stormed out of a private meeting of the Exiting the EU Committee in protest at a report that was said to be too “gloomy” about the prospects for the UK outside of Europe.

Conservative MPs are said to have left the talks after a report into the Article 50 Bill white paper was presented to the committee.

The contents of the 155-page report, yet to be published, were deemed to be too negative about Brexit by the small group, with a particular dispute breaking out over how the consequences of leaving the EU with no deal were presented.

After a little more than an hour they opted to leave the meeting, which was led by committee chair Hilary Benn, who backed remaining in the EU.

Among the gripes of the rebel MPs was that they were not given enough warning of the report, which was reportedly emailed to committee members on Friday.

Mr Benn was also accused of attempting to “bounce” members into accepting the report without a proper discussion.

Its contents were described as “massively skewed” by one.

Jeremy Corbyn calls for greater accountability of Brexit process

However, one source close to the committee told The Independent: "The report was going to be excoriating about the prospects of Britain leaving with no deal.

"The report was simply reflecting what Brexit David Davis had said to the committee, but they didn't like that it was put in a poor light."

The cross-party Exiting the EU committee was formed last October to scrutinise Government actions in the lead-up to and during negotiations with Brussels, and counts Michael Gove and John Whittingdale among its members.

There is no indication that either of the former ministers was involved in the walk-out, which comes a day before Theresa May fires the starting gun on Brexit negotiations by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – the formal procedure for leaving the EU.

The committee, which is made up of ten pro-EU MPs and six who backed Brexit. is expected to ratify the report as a majority of its members back remaining in Europe.

Nine MPs are likely to oppose or abstain in a vote on the report.

Earlier this month Brexit Secretary David Davis was quizzed by MPs on the committee.

He revealed that the Government had not carried out a full assessment of the impact on the British economy of leaving the EU without a trade deal.

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