Blog: ‘Veil of secrecy’: Brexit committee says government denying MPs access to key decision-making details – The Independent

Boris Johnson’s government has drawn a “veil of secrecy” over the procedure for making crucial decisions on the implementation of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, a parliamentary committee has said.

The EU Scrutiny Committee said the move was hampering MPs’ ability to scrutinise the impact of Brexit, and wrote to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove demanding advance notice of upcoming decisions at the UK/EU Joint Committee which oversees the agreement.

The matter came to a head following a 12 June meeting of the joint committee at which the government agreed a series of technical changes to the Brexit financial settlement and social security provisions without informing MPs of its position in advance.

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The UK withheld consent for a series of amendments to the arrangements for the Northern Irish border proposed by the EU. But the scrutiny committee complained that even after the meeting was over, it was not clear whether Britain had rejected the changes – involving the application of single market rules – definitively or was still negotiating on them.

In its letter, the scrutiny committee said it was “disappointed” at the UK government’s failure to live up to a promise to do “everything it can” to keep MPs updated on the activities of the joint committee.

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UK news in pictures

1/50 23 June 2020

Tony Bennett the owner of The Devereux pub in Temple, London. Pub and hospitality bosses have cheered the Government’s proposals to allow customers through their doors again on July 4 as “a welcome relief”. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2020. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that pubs, restaurants and cinemas will be able to reopen from July 4, with “one metre-plus” distancing measures in place

PA

2/50 22 June 2020

Police forensics officers carry out a search near Forbury Gardens, in Reading town centre, the scene of a multiple stabbing attack which took place at around 7pm on Saturday, leaving three people dead and another three seriously injured

PA

3/50 21 June 2020

Soccer Football – Premier League – Everton v Liverpool – Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain – June 21, 2020 Children play football outside the stadium before the match, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Action Images via Reuters

4/50 20 June 2020

Arsenal’s midfielder Nicolas Pepe kneels before the Premier League match against Brighton and Hove Albion at the American Express Community Stadium in southern England

AFP via Getty

5/50 19 June 2020

Bianca Walkden during a training session at the National Taekwondo Centre in Manchester

PA

6/50 18 June 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures about social distancing alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he arrives at Downing Street for a meeting. Macron also visited London to commemorate the 80th anniversary of former French president Charles de Gaulle’s appeal to French people to resist the Nazi occupation during World War II

AFP/Getty

7/50 17 June 2020

Players kneel, as well as, having ‘Black Lives Matter’ in place of names on their shirts prior to the start of the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park in Birmingham. The league resumed after its three-month suspension because of coronavirus

AP

8/50 16 June 2020

Motakhayyel ridden by Jim Crowley, right, wins the Buckingham Palace Handicap during day one of Royal Ascot. This year, the flat racing’s biggest meeting, is behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak

PA

9/50 15 June 2020

Queues form at Primark at the Rushden Lakes shopping complex after the government relaxed coronavirus lockdown laws significantly, allowing zoos, safari parks and non-essential shops to open to visitors

Getty

10/50 14 June 2020

A man kneels at a commemoration to mark the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire in London. The fire claimed 72 lives on 14 June 2017

PA

11/50 13 June 2020

Protesters confront police in Whitehall near Parliament Square, during a protest by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance

PA

12/50 12 June 2020

A Black Lives Matter supporter sings to crowds who marched with her in front of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square in London. The death of an African American man, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police has sparked protests across the United States, as well as demonstrations of solidarity in many countries around the world

Getty

13/50 11 June 2020

Scouts show their support at the Lord Baden-Powell statue in Poole. The statue of Robert Baden-Powell on Poole Quay is to be placed in “safe storage” following concerns about his racial views

Getty

14/50 10 June 2020

Social distancing markers around the penguin enclosure at London Zoo. Staff have been preparing and are now ready for reopening next week with new signage, one-way trails for visitors to follow, and extra handwashing and sanitiser stations in place

PA

15/50 9 June 2020

Protestors hold placards and shout slogans during during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign calling for the removal of the statue of British imperialist Cecil John Rhodes outside Oriel College, at the University of Oxford

AFP via Getty

16/50 8 June 2020

Hermione Wilson helps to install a new artwork at Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh, created as a tribute to the NHS titled “A Thousand Thank Yous” originally devised by the late Allan Kaprow which consists of colourful painted messages on cardboard and has been directed remotely by London-based artist Peter Liversidge

PA

17/50 7 June 2020

The Edward Colston statue has been pulled down by Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol. Colston was a 17th century slave trader who has numerous landmarks named after him in Bristol

SWNS

18/50 6 June 2020

Children pose for their family in front of discarded placards fixed on a wall in Piccadilly Gardens after a Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Manchester. The death of an African-American man, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police has sparked protests across the United States, as well as demonstrations of solidarity in many countries around the world

Getty

19/50 5 June 2020

Protesters kneel in Trafalgar Square during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in London, England. The death of an African-American man, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police has sparked protests across the United States, as well as demonstrations of solidarity in many countries around the world

Getty

20/50 4 June 2020

Protestors march from Windsor Castle in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement

Getty

21/50 3 June 2020

People wearing face masks hold banners in Hyde Park during a Black Lives Matter protest following the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis

Reuters

22/50 2 June 2020

Street artist Nath Murdoch touches up his anti-racism mural in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

PA

23/50 1 June 2020

Customers socially distance themselves as they queue to enter Ikea in Warrington. The store opening saw large queues of people and traffic on adjacent roads as it reopened after the lockdown. The furniture and housewares chain reopened its stores across England and Northern Ireland subject to several restrictions, keeping its restaurants closed and asking customers to shop alone

Getty

24/50 31 May 2020

A man wearing a protective face mask kneels in front of police officers during a protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of African-American man George Floyd near the U.S. Embassy, London, Britai

Reuters

25/50 30 May 2020

Visitors at Grassholme Reservoir in Lunedale, Co Durham are able to cross an ancient packhorse bridge as work on the dam wall means water levels have dropped signifcantly to reveal this monument of the pas

UK

26/50 29 May 2020

British Tennis player Maia Lumsden in action at Bridge of Allan Tennis Club. People can meet family and friends outdoors and play sports such as golf and tennis again as the country is moving into phase one of the Scottish Government’s plan for gradually lifting lockdown

PA

27/50 28 May 2020

A police frogman, searches for a weapon in Abington Lake in in Northampton

Getty

28/50 27 May 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears before the Liaison Committee via Zoom from the cabinet room at 10 Downing Street, amid the coronavirus

10 Downing Street/Reuters

29/50 26 May 2020

Members of the public relax on the beach at Botany Bay in Margate

Getty

30/50 25 May 2020

Dominic Cummings, senior aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, makes a statement inside 10 Downing Street, London, over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions

AP

31/50 24 May 2020

A demonstrator holds a sign reading ‘Why are you above the law?’ outside the house of Dominic Cummings in London, following allegations Cummings broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country

Reuters

32/50 23 May 2020

People take a walk near Durdle Door as cows graze in Lulworth

Reuters

33/50 22 May 2020

Waves break onto a wall at Brighton beach

Reuters

34/50 21 May 2020

Cafe owner Francini Osorio serves customers in a trial phase during the coronavirus lockdown. Osorio has installed an air purifier and 35 clear shower curtains, which will divide customers and tables, in the Francini Cafe De Colombia, Worcester, ready for the re-opening of his business as lockdown restrictions are eased

PA

35/50 20 May 2020

People at Bournemouth beach in Dorset, as people flock to parks and beaches with lockdown measures eased. The Met Office has predicted the hottest day of the year

PA

36/50 19 May 2020

A dog jumps into the water as families relax at a Lido in London

AP

37/50 18 May 2020

A fan celebrates outside Celtic Park after Celtic were crowned champions of the Scottish Premiership. Hearts were also relegated after a decision was made to conclude the season with immediate effect

PA

38/50 17 May 2020

People on Brighton beach after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown

PA

39/50 16 May 2020

Police lead away Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as protesters gather in breach of lockdown rules in Hyde Park in London after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown.

PA

40/50 15 May 2020

Estonian freelance ballet dancer and choreographer, Eve Mutso performs her daily fitness routine near her home in Glasgow, Scotland

Getty

41/50 14 May 2020

Senior charge nurse Jan Ferguson views artwork “Theatre of Dott’s” by Kate Ive, inspired by Professor Norman Dott and his neurosurgery theatres at the Western General from 1960-2019. It is one of a number of artworks which sit on the walls of NHS Lothians’ Department of Clinical Neurosciences (DCN) which has been transferred into a purpose-built new home on the Little France campus in Edinburgh

PA

42/50 13 May 2020

Team GB’s karate athlete Jordan Thomas trains outside his apartment in Manchester

Reuters

43/50 12 May 2020

Nurses from central London hospitals protest on international nurses day about the chronic underfunding of the NHS and other issues surrounding the health service outside the gates of Downing Street, London

PA

44/50 11 May 2020

Waves crash at Tynemouth pier on the North East coast

PA

45/50 10 May 2020

A woman passes street art and a poster in East London

Reuters

46/50 9 May 2020

Police patrol the beach in Brighton

Getty

47/50 8 May 2020

The British Royal Air Force Red Arrows conduct a fly past over the statue of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in London to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE Day) in Britain

MOD/Reuters

48/50 7 May 2020

Team GB sailor Eilidh McIntyre during a training session at her home in Portsmouth

Reuters

49/50 6 May 2020

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer listens to Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during PMQs

UK Parliament/AFP/Getty

50/50 5 May 2020

The sun appears to explode over the horizon in this montage of images captured by photographer Nick Lucas near his home in Ringwood, Hampshire. Nick took a number of pictures just a few seconds apart on a tripod mounted camera which were then combined to give the eye catching dawn image

Nick Lucas/SWNS

1/50 23 June 2020

Tony Bennett the owner of The Devereux pub in Temple, London. Pub and hospitality bosses have cheered the Government’s proposals to allow customers through their doors again on July 4 as “a welcome relief”. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2020. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that pubs, restaurants and cinemas will be able to reopen from July 4, with “one metre-plus” distancing measures in place

PA

2/50 22 June 2020

Police forensics officers carry out a search near Forbury Gardens, in Reading town centre, the scene of a multiple stabbing attack which took place at around 7pm on Saturday, leaving three people dead and another three seriously injured

PA

3/50 21 June 2020

Soccer Football – Premier League – Everton v Liverpool – Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain – June 21, 2020 Children play football outside the stadium before the match, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Action Images via Reuters

4/50 20 June 2020

Arsenal’s midfielder Nicolas Pepe kneels before the Premier League match against Brighton and Hove Albion at the American Express Community Stadium in southern England

AFP via Getty

5/50 19 June 2020

Bianca Walkden during a training session at the National Taekwondo Centre in Manchester

PA

6/50 18 June 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures about social distancing alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he arrives at Downing Street for a meeting. Macron also visited London to commemorate the 80th anniversary of former French president Charles de Gaulle’s appeal to French people to resist the Nazi occupation during World War II

AFP/Getty

7/50 17 June 2020

Players kneel, as well as, having ‘Black Lives Matter’ in place of names on their shirts prior to the start of the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park in Birmingham. The league resumed after its three-month suspension because of coronavirus

AP

8/50 16 June 2020

Motakhayyel ridden by Jim Crowley, right, wins the Buckingham Palace Handicap during day one of Royal Ascot. This year, the flat racing’s biggest meeting, is behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak

PA

9/50 15 June 2020

Queues form at Primark at the Rushden Lakes shopping complex after the government relaxed coronavirus lockdown laws significantly, allowing zoos, safari parks and non-essential shops to open to visitors

Getty

10/50 14 June 2020

A man kneels at a commemoration to mark the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire in London. The fire claimed 72 lives on 14 June 2017

PA

11/50 13 June 2020

Protesters confront police in Whitehall near Parliament Square, during a protest by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance

PA

12/50 12 June 2020

A Black Lives Matter supporter sings to crowds who marched with her in front of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square in London. The death of an African American man, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police has sparked protests across the United States, as well as demonstrations of solidarity in many countries around the world

Getty

13/50 11 June 2020

Scouts show their support at the Lord Baden-Powell statue in Poole. The statue of Robert Baden-Powell on Poole Quay is to be placed in “safe storage” following concerns about his racial views

Getty

14/50 10 June 2020

Social distancing markers around the penguin enclosure at London Zoo. Staff have been preparing and are now ready for reopening next week with new signage, one-way trails for visitors to follow, and extra handwashing and sanitiser stations in place

PA

15/50 9 June 2020

Protestors hold placards and shout slogans during during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign calling for the removal of the statue of British imperialist Cecil John Rhodes outside Oriel College, at the University of Oxford

AFP via Getty

16/50 8 June 2020

Hermione Wilson helps to install a new artwork at Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh, created as a tribute to the NHS titled “A Thousand Thank Yous” originally devised by the late Allan Kaprow which consists of colourful painted messages on cardboard and has been directed remotely by London-based artist Peter Liversidge

PA

17/50 7 June 2020

The Edward Colston statue has been pulled down by Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol. Colston was a 17th century slave trader who has numerous landmarks named after him in Bristol

SWNS

18/50 6 June 2020

Children pose for their family in front of discarded placards fixed on a wall in Piccadilly Gardens after a Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Manchester. The death of an African-American man, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police has sparked protests across the United States, as well as demonstrations of solidarity in many countries around the world

Getty

19/50 5 June 2020

Protesters kneel in Trafalgar Square during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in London, England. The death of an African-American man, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police has sparked protests across the United States, as well as demonstrations of solidarity in many countries around the world

Getty

20/50 4 June 2020

Protestors march from Windsor Castle in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement

Getty

21/50 3 June 2020

People wearing face masks hold banners in Hyde Park during a Black Lives Matter protest following the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis

Reuters

22/50 2 June 2020

Street artist Nath Murdoch touches up his anti-racism mural in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

PA

23/50 1 June 2020

Customers socially distance themselves as they queue to enter Ikea in Warrington. The store opening saw large queues of people and traffic on adjacent roads as it reopened after the lockdown. The furniture and housewares chain reopened its stores across England and Northern Ireland subject to several restrictions, keeping its restaurants closed and asking customers to shop alone

Getty

24/50 31 May 2020

A man wearing a protective face mask kneels in front of police officers during a protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of African-American man George Floyd near the U.S. Embassy, London, Britai

Reuters

25/50 30 May 2020

Visitors at Grassholme Reservoir in Lunedale, Co Durham are able to cross an ancient packhorse bridge as work on the dam wall means water levels have dropped signifcantly to reveal this monument of the pas

UK

26/50 29 May 2020

British Tennis player Maia Lumsden in action at Bridge of Allan Tennis Club. People can meet family and friends outdoors and play sports such as golf and tennis again as the country is moving into phase one of the Scottish Government’s plan for gradually lifting lockdown

PA

27/50 28 May 2020

A police frogman, searches for a weapon in Abington Lake in in Northampton

Getty

28/50 27 May 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears before the Liaison Committee via Zoom from the cabinet room at 10 Downing Street, amid the coronavirus

10 Downing Street/Reuters

29/50 26 May 2020

Members of the public relax on the beach at Botany Bay in Margate

Getty

30/50 25 May 2020

Dominic Cummings, senior aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, makes a statement inside 10 Downing Street, London, over allegations he breached coronavirus lockdown restrictions

AP

31/50 24 May 2020

A demonstrator holds a sign reading ‘Why are you above the law?’ outside the house of Dominic Cummings in London, following allegations Cummings broke coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling across the country

Reuters

32/50 23 May 2020

People take a walk near Durdle Door as cows graze in Lulworth

Reuters

33/50 22 May 2020

Waves break onto a wall at Brighton beach

Reuters

34/50 21 May 2020

Cafe owner Francini Osorio serves customers in a trial phase during the coronavirus lockdown. Osorio has installed an air purifier and 35 clear shower curtains, which will divide customers and tables, in the Francini Cafe De Colombia, Worcester, ready for the re-opening of his business as lockdown restrictions are eased

PA

35/50 20 May 2020

People at Bournemouth beach in Dorset, as people flock to parks and beaches with lockdown measures eased. The Met Office has predicted the hottest day of the year

PA

36/50 19 May 2020

A dog jumps into the water as families relax at a Lido in London

AP

37/50 18 May 2020

A fan celebrates outside Celtic Park after Celtic were crowned champions of the Scottish Premiership. Hearts were also relegated after a decision was made to conclude the season with immediate effect

PA

38/50 17 May 2020

People on Brighton beach after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown

PA

39/50 16 May 2020

Police lead away Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as protesters gather in breach of lockdown rules in Hyde Park in London after the introduction of measures to bring the country out of lockdown.

PA

40/50 15 May 2020

Estonian freelance ballet dancer and choreographer, Eve Mutso performs her daily fitness routine near her home in Glasgow, Scotland

Getty

41/50 14 May 2020

Senior charge nurse Jan Ferguson views artwork “Theatre of Dott’s” by Kate Ive, inspired by Professor Norman Dott and his neurosurgery theatres at the Western General from 1960-2019. It is one of a number of artworks which sit on the walls of NHS Lothians’ Department of Clinical Neurosciences (DCN) which has been transferred into a purpose-built new home on the Little France campus in Edinburgh

PA

42/50 13 May 2020

Team GB’s karate athlete Jordan Thomas trains outside his apartment in Manchester

Reuters

43/50 12 May 2020

Nurses from central London hospitals protest on international nurses day about the chronic underfunding of the NHS and other issues surrounding the health service outside the gates of Downing Street, London

PA

44/50 11 May 2020

Waves crash at Tynemouth pier on the North East coast

PA

45/50 10 May 2020

A woman passes street art and a poster in East London

Reuters

46/50 9 May 2020

Police patrol the beach in Brighton

Getty

47/50 8 May 2020

The British Royal Air Force Red Arrows conduct a fly past over the statue of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in London to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE Day) in Britain

MOD/Reuters

48/50 7 May 2020

Team GB sailor Eilidh McIntyre during a training session at her home in Portsmouth

Reuters

49/50 6 May 2020

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer listens to Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during PMQs

UK Parliament/AFP/Getty

50/50 5 May 2020

The sun appears to explode over the horizon in this montage of images captured by photographer Nick Lucas near his home in Ringwood, Hampshire. Nick took a number of pictures just a few seconds apart on a tripod mounted camera which were then combined to give the eye catching dawn image

Nick Lucas/SWNS

And it said that the government had “without any clear justification drawn a veil of secrecy” over the activities of a number of UK/EU specialised committees which carry out preparatory work to iron out disagreements between the two sides ahead of decisions in the joint committee.

This lack of transparency “hampers Parliament’s ability to effectively scrutinise their work, and their input into the work of the joint committee itself”, the Westminster committee warned.

The cross-party group of MPs said it had only become aware of this month’s proposed changes to the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement because the European Commission provided details.

And it warned that it was “uncertain” whether the commission will continue to provide documents in the same way after the end of the UK’s transition out of the EU in December.

The scrutiny committee repeated a request made jointly with seven other parliamentary committees in March for advance publication by the UK government of all draft decisions and Britain’s position on them.

“It is clear that the effective parliamentary scrutiny of the government’s preparations for, and actions in, the joint committee will require a substantial change in your approach to transparency to ensure proper accountability of ministers for their position within those bodies,” the committee told Mr Gove.

EU Scrutiny Committee chair Sir William Cash said: “The government’s current approach in informing parliament about its participation in the joint committee responsible for overseeing the implementation of the withdrawal agreement needs significant improvement, as my committee’s report illustrates.

“The government must be more open about the role of the joint committee and ensure effective parliamentary scrutiny of the decisions it takes within that committee.

“I expect the government to address the concerns raised in our report before the next joint committee meeting.”

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