THE SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman has dismissed the UK Government’s secretive Brexit impact assessment papers as “flimsy” and accused ministers of refusing to release them publicly because they are “embarrassing”.

Stephen Gethins MP was put through a strict security procedure and stripped of electronic devices before he was given just an hour to read the controversial documents in a government building, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

He was handed two ring binders containing 39 Brexit impact assessments on a range of key sectors including education, agriculture, fisheries, renewables, tourism and energy.

Gethins, who sits on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which affords him access to some confidential government information, first asked for sight of the UK Government’s economic impact assessment of exiting the EU in October 2016.

Brexit secretary David Davis told Gethins in the House of Commons in October last year that an “assessment of 51 sectors of the economy” was being undertaken but it wasn’t until Wednesday of last week that the SNP MP was first given access to documents.

Gethins said: “On Wednesday, more than a year after I asked for them, and weeks after a parliamentary vote requiring the government to publish the assessments, I was given my big chance to see them. I had to go to a government building in Whitehall where I was ushered through security to a room in the building where two ring binder folders were left out for viewing. I was stripped of any electronic devices and two officials oversaw me reading the documents.

“It felt like I was being shown the nuclear codes and I have to say that the information did not merit the security or secrecy surrounding them. In fact, I gained very little from the experience, though my time was very limited.

“What I did learn is that if this is all the work the government has done to assess the impact of the biggest economic and constitutional upheaval since the war, then it is woefully unprepared. It’s flimsy stuff and looks like a rushed job.”

Gethins said all the information he read in the hour he was given is already in the public domain. “I didn’t read anything that I couldn’t have found in open-source material,” he said. “I only got a taster but all of the sectors I looked at were setting out bleak prospects for the UK after Brexit. And there was not much in the way of solutions.”

He added: “As far as I can see the only reason the Brexit impact assessments are still being kept from the public is they are an embarrassment to the UK Government. The lack of detail provided by the Government is apparently an extension of the strategy deployed by the Vote Leave campaign, which published nothing before the EU referendum.”

Brexit secretary David Davis was criticised by Commons Speaker John Bercow on Thursday over his role in the release of the Brexit impact papers to MPs. He said Davis’s decision to “unilaterally” cut out parts of the papers was “most regrettable” and he had been too slow to release them to MPs.

An 850-page dossier was made available to MPs after a binding vote in the Commons last month, but Davis faced criticism after he admitted to the Exiting the EU Committee on December 6 his department had carried out no formal impact assessments, despite previous statements which suggested otherwise.

Bercow said: “Ministers could, with advantage, have been considerably clearer in their statements, particularly in challenging lines of questioning in select committees which were based upon a genuine misconception.”

Reacting to claims Davis had dragged his feet over the publication of the reports after parliament’s binding vote on November 1, Bercow said: “While it was most regrettable the Secretary of State – a point I made to him privately, I now state publicly – unilaterally excised some material from the papers which he provided, and that it took so long to provide the papers, I also feel bound to pay due attention to the formerly recorded view of the (Exiting the European Union Select Committee) that the Secretary of State had complied with the order of November 1.”

The Home Office said the government department for exiting the EU would not offer comment to the Sunday Herald.