Keir Starmer demands PM publish 'secret' dossier on Covid economic hit

Keir Starmer accuses Boris Johnson of ‘suppressing’ evidence on economic hit from lockdown tiers amid clamour for ‘secret’ dossier to be released

  • Sir Keir Starmer challenged Boris Johnson to release Covid economic dossier
  • He accused PM of ‘trying to suppress the evidence of what is actually going on’ 
  • He said if PM does not publish document this week Labour will force a vote on it

Sir Keir Starmer today challenged Boris Johnson to publish a ‘secret’ dossier showing the full economic impact of coronavirus as he accused the Prime Minister of ‘trying to suppress the evidence of what is actually going on’.  

The Government published some information ahead of last night’s vote on the roll out of the new Covid-19 tier system as it tried to win over Tory rebels. 

But Sir Keir said the information released was ‘thin and meaningless’ as he demanded Mr Johnson hand over the ‘full dossier’ which officials are said to have compiled but which has been held back. 

Sir Keir said if Mr Johnson does not bow to pressure and release the report this week then Labour will table a vote in the House of Commons in a bid to force his hand. 

Sir Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of ‘trying to suppress the evidence of what is actually going on in the economy’ as he demanded the PM publish a secret Government dossier on the impact of the new tier system 

MPs last night voted in favour of Mr Johnson’s tier system but the PM suffered a Tory rebellion as 53 Conservatives voted against the measures

MPs yesterday voted in favour of Mr Johnson’s tier system by 291 votes to 78, a majority of 213, but 53 Tory rebels defied the PM to vote against the measures as Labour abstained.

The rebels demanded ahead of the vote that the Government publish a full impact assessment of the new system, showing not just the effect the measures would have on the spread of the virus but also on the economy and wider health issues.  

Ministers did publish a report but it was dismissed by critics as being too broad and lacking the detail that had been asked for.

Anger among Conservative MPs was then compounded when The Times reported the existence of a Covid-19 sectoral impacts dashboard prepared by Whitehall officials which had been kept private. 

The dossier on the impact to nearly 40 sectors of the economy was said to have labelled aerospace, the automotive industry, retail, hospitality, tourism, arts and sport as red, warning of significant job cuts and revenue losses.

Writing in the same newspaper today, Sir Keir said there must be ‘maximum transparency’ on the Government’s approach to tackling coronavirus as he called on Mr Johnson to publish the dashboard in full.  

He said: ‘Against that background it was alarming to read in yesterday’s Times that the Government is trying to suppress the evidence of what is actually going on in the economy. 

‘The government published a thin and meaningless report, while sitting on the full dossier it has prepared. That is no way to inspire confidence in parliament or the country.’ 

Sir Keir said Mr Johnson ‘must do the right thing and release all the modelling it has done’ on the impact of the tier system and that he must ‘do it this week’. 

‘If he fails to do so, Labour is ready to force a vote on the issue and give Conservative MPs the chance to join us in flushing out the evidence,’ he said. 

‘I do not want to go down that road, but I am prepared to do so in the national interest.’  

Sir Keir is considering using an arcane process in the House of Commons called a ‘humble address’ to the Queen which would force the Government to hand over the documents if a majority of MPs demand it. 

Opposition MPs have successfully used the parliamentary device in recent years to force the Government to publish Brexit-related documents.    

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