Two West Midlands Labour MPs have joined forces with Tory rebels in a bid to force the Government to reveal the economic cost of Brexit.
Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley, and Pat McFadden, MP for Wolverhampton South East, are attempting to insert the measure into the Finance Bill, the legislation that allows proposals announced in the Chancellor’s recent Budget to go ahead.
Also involved are Conservative MPs who are highly sceptical about Brexit, including Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston, Dominic Grieve and former Tory Education Secretary Justine Greening.
The cross-party coalition could inflict a major defeat on Theresa May’s government if they gain the support of more Labour MPs.
A Treasury study published earlier this year, which the Government initially tried to keep confidential, predicted that the West Midlands economy will be 8% smaller 15 years after Brexit if there is a trade deal, compared to remaining in the EU.
And it found that the West Midlands economy would be 13% smaller if we leave the EU without a trade deal, compared to what would happen if there was no Brexit.
Now, MPs are attempting to force the Government to publish assessments showing the likely impact of Brexit under whatever trade deal Mrs May manages to agree with the EU, and what would happen if we leave without a deal, as well as the impact on the economy of simply staying in.
Mr McFadden said on Twitter: “I have signed this amendment. The Government cannot be allowed to compare their divorce agreement (it won’t be a deal on the future) only to ‘no deal’ and not tell us what they know about how it compares with the real existing deal we have now.”
The amendment to the Finance Bill has been sponsored by Labour backbencher Chuka Umunna, a supporter of the campaign for a second referendum or “People’s Vote” on Brexit.
Many of the other MPs who have put their name to the amendment also back the People’s Vote campaign.
Theresa May told a meeting of her Cabinet that there is still a “small number” of outstanding issues to be resolved in the Brexit negotiations before a deal can be agreed.
The Prime Minister told the weekly gathering of senior ministers in No 10 that the talks in Brussels were continuing to progress but there was still more work to be done.
Her official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister told Cabinet that since it had last met negotiations had continued in Brussels and good progress had been made.
“However, the PM said there remained a small number of outstanding issues as the UK pushes for the best text that can be negotiated.”
Earlier, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington said the UK and the EU are “almost within touching distance” of a Brexit deal.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “Still possible but not at all definite I think pretty much sums it up.”
He added: “We are not quite there yet. This was always going to be an extremely difficult, extremely complex negotiation but we are almost within touching distance now.
“But, as the PM has said, it can’t be a deal at any price. It has got to be one that works in terms of feeling we can deliver on the referendum result and that is why there is a measure of caution.”