When are the government going to publish Operation Yellowhammer?
By Joe Harker
The government were defeated in the House of Commons this week over publishing the Operation Yellowhammer documents which detail the government's contingency plans and predictions for a no-deal Brexit.
They lost the vote by 311 to 302, meaning they have to hand over all documents and communications, that means emails and WhatsApp messages on the subject too.
So, when are they going to get round to it and what can we expect from the information?
Every single document and piece of evidence is being demanded and must be turned over by the mandate of parliament.
That means "all correspondence, whether formal or informal in both written and electronic form" must be published. Documents and messages have to be released.
Dominic Grieve, the former Conservative MP who brought the vote to the House of Commons, said he pushed for the vote after public officials told him "they believed the handling of this matter smacked of scandal".
The MP, now standing independently, said the combination of a lengthy prorogation of parliament and a refusal to publish the official predictions of a no deal Brexit made it necessary for the information to be known.
If Brexit is going to be a disaster then people have a right to know.
That's all very interesting, but when are we going to see it all published?
The Counter Claim:
Yeah, hold your horses on that because the government really doesn't want to release those documents despite losing the vote in the Commons.
Business secretary Andrea Leadsom said the Yellowhammer documents will "concern people" so the information ought to remain known only to those in government.
She admitted the government was supposed to abide by the law, which now means they'll have to hand over information, but they needed to work out what documents they will offer up.
That's not what they are supposed to do and they know it, but the government fears if the public heard the predictions made in Yellowhammer they wouldn't like it.
The current government line is that the Yellowhammer information is the worst case scenario planning and thus wouldn't be worth releasing to the public as it probably won't happen and will only scare people.
That's not actually true.
Operation Yellowhammer is what the government projections predict will be the most likely outcome of a no deal Brexit, not the worst case scenario. If the government doesn't want that information published and is trying to discredit it that is because they fear what people might think.
Michael Gove had previously tried to dismiss the initial Yellowhammer leaks as the worst case scenario and an outdated one at that. The government is currently still insisting the information details a very unlikely "worst case" outcome.
However, they were not outdated projections and Operation Yellowhammer is actually a "base case" estimation, which means it is what the government expects will be the most likely outcome rather than the best or worst case scenarios.
Lord Kerslake, head of the civil service between 2012 and 2014, criticised the government for trying to pretend Brexit would be positive when even their own predictions were forecasting disaster.
Earlier this month the government scrapped plans to release a "watered down" version of Yellowhammer after ministers decided even that would cause alarm among the public.