Brexit: MPs debate move to force publication of no-deal papers – live news | Politics


Could it be that a witness statement was intended and prepared but that the relevant senior officials refused to sign it? Or that the document contained something the government did not want the court, or the world, to know? Ms Cherry asked Michael Gove, the minister responsible for no-deal planning, about it. He said he had “absolutely no idea”.

Witness statements are formal court documents, and it is a criminal offence to sign one that you know to be incorrect. They are serious documents for serious people, as far apart from the trivial discourse of political sloganeering and promises as one can imagine. Witness statements matter.

The government’s position on prorogation is that the request was made for routine reasons, and not to frustrate parliament. The legal challengers in London say there is evidence that ministers themselves do not quite believe it. But that is the official version.

The government has disclosed some documents which, on their face, show that the prorogation was routine but Ms Cherry and others fear that these do not provide a full account, and that the decision was contained in unofficial communications, such as WhatsApp messages. My own view is that if the government’s disclosed documents were the entire story then a witness statement would not have been a problem.