THE Government’s reason for not making Brexit economic impact studies publicly available – because it would weaken its negotiating position with the EU – sounds remarkably like its oft-repeated stance on not giving more information about future policy direction.

Brexit Secretary David Davis pledged on Thursday to be “as open as we can be” following a Commons vote in favour of releasing the documents to the Exiting the EU Select Committee.

But he was clearly reluctant to hand over the information in full, playing down its significance as “data” rather than a “grand plan”.

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Thursday's developments come just weeks after the Department for Exiting the EU refused to say whether or not it had analysed the impact of Brexit on Britain’s regions amid claims by its former chief of staff that analysis showed Scotland and the North-East would be hardest hit.

The department said confirming or denying the existence of such a report could “impact the national and regional economies by precipitating pre-emptive and reactionary assumptions from stakeholders”. This was despite Chancellor Philip Hammond seemingly confirming the Treasury had carried out regional analysis. All this points to the conclusions that the various Whitehall departments need to start talking to each other, but more worryingly, that the Government has something to hide.

Businesses in our region have been crying out for more information about what the post-Brexit economic and regulatory landscape might look like. These studies could provide that sort of detail, and far from playing into the hands of EU heads of state, might give North-East companies more chance to futureproof their operations and identify potential opportunities. Forewarned is forearmed.