POLITICS

MPs Demand David Davis Face Contempt Of Parliament Vote For 'Misleading' Them Over Brexit Impact Assessments

Brexit secretary under pressure for apparent contradictory statements.

06/12/2017 14:24 GMT

David Davis has been accused of misleading parliament after he claimed the government had not conducted impact assessments on the economic impact of Brexit - having previously suggested to it had.

Opposition MPs have demanded the Brexit secretary be held in contempt of parliament.

Davis told the Commons Exiting the EU Committee on Wednesday “no sort of systematic impact assessment” had been done on various key sectors of the economy.

However in October he suggested impact assessments did exist and that Theresa May had read the “summary outcomes of them” if not every “excruciating detail”.

Labour MP David Lammy says Davis was “mendacious, conceited, vain, duplicitous, wholly unfit for office” and should resign.

Lib Dem MP Vera Hobhouse said Davis’ comments revealed the goverbment had “no idea what their Brexit plans will do to the country”.

“Whether it’s through incompetence or insincerity, David Davis has been misleading Parliament from the start,” she said.

SNP MP Pete Wishart also told the Commons today the government could be in contempt of parliament over the release of Brexit papers.

Speaker John Bercow said Davis’ actions were of “considerable importance” but would wait until the Brexit committee reported back before deciding whether to hold a contempt of parliament vote.

He added that MPs were free to write to him to ask for a contempt vote if they so wished. 

If held in contempt the Brexit secretary could be suspended or expelled from the Commons. In theory, he could also be locked up in Big Ben’s clock tower.

Appearing before the committee today, Davis was asked if impact assessments had been conducted. “Not in sectors,” he said. 

And pressed to confirm that assessments had not been conducted on key sectors such as aerospace and automotive manufacturing, he added: “No to all of them”.

Labour has accused Davis of potentially misleading parliament given his previous statements.

The party has pointed to this exchange between Brexit committee member Seema Malhotra and Davis on October 25:

Seema Malhotra: Could I ask you another question? You have answered that question; that was very helpful. Has the Prime Minister seen the impact assessments that have been published, yes or no?

Davis: The details of them? Sorry, did you say “have been published”?

Malhotra: Sorry, I am just asking whether she has seen the impact assessments. A yes or no answer is fine.

Davis: Which ones? I will give a proper answer; I do not give yes/no answers.

Malhotra: I mean the impact assessments that you have not published. 

Davis: That we have not published?

Malhotra: Yes.

Davis: She will know the summary outcomes of them. She will not necessarily have read every single one. They are in excruciating detail. 

On October 9, Malhotra also challenged May during prime minister’s questions to “publish the list of the sectors of the economy for which she has undertaken impact assessments and their results”

The prime minister said: “The full list of sectors will be published shortly.”

The government was ordered to hand over its Brexit analysis papers following a binding vote in the Commons.  

Davis was appearing before the Brexit committee this morning to defend his failure to deliver the 58 impact assessments demanded by the parliamentary motion last month.

Instead the government handed over instead 850 pages of heavily-edited “sectoral analyses” setting out detail about the current position of different parts of the economy.