Gove Attacked Over ‘Veil of Secrecy’ in Key Brexit Discussions

The U.K. government is hindering lawmakers’ efforts to properly scrutinize key decisions over the country’s exit from the European Union, a parliamentary panel said.

The European Scrutiny Committee called on Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove to lift what it called the “veil of secrecy” surrounding the Joint EU-U.K. Committee and its sub-committees that oversee the implementation of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. The panel also asked Gove to promise to consult Parliament on any changes affecting Northern Ireland.

The call came after the EU submitted a set of proposals, including one that would expand the list of its laws that would remain applicable in Northern Ireland after Britain’s final parting with the bloc in December. While the U.K. rejected most of them, members of parliament criticized the government for not making its intention to do so clear.

“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,” Committee Chairman William Cash, a Conservative, said in a statement on Wednesday. The “government must be more open about the role of the Joint Committee and ensure effective parliamentary scrutiny of the decisions it takes.”

The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland was one of the most controversial aspects of the divorce talks between the U.K. and the European Union. After years of negotiations, Prime Minister Boris Johnson effectively agreed to keep the region in the EU’s customs union and large parts of its single market — a move opposed by unionist parties, who argued the decision would create barriers to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and risk splitting the U.K.

The Cabinet Office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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