David Davis has revealed the government has not assessed the impact of Brexit on different key sectors of the British economy.
The Brexit secretary told MPs on Wednesday “there is no sort of systematic impact assessment” as he was “not a fan” of economic predictions.
He added that Brexit was an economic “paradigm shift” similar to the financial crisis of 2008.
But Davis had told parliament in October the government had prepared documents that examined the impact of Brexit on the economy in “excruciating detail”.
In June he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “In my job I don’t think out loud and I don’t make guesses. Those two things. I try and make decisions. You make those based on the data. That data is being gathered. We’ve got 50 - nearly 60 - sectoral analyses already done.”
And in December he said: “We are in the midst of carrying out about 57 sets of analyses, each of which has implications for individual parts of 85% of the economy.”
Davis has been accused of misleading Parliament over the existance of the papers.
And one Labour MP demanded he resign and be locked up in the Tower of London for contempt of parliament.
Asked by the Brexit select committee today whether he had conducted impact assessments on areas of the economy such as car manufacturing or aerospace, Davis said: “No to all of them.”
Hillary Benn, the Labour chairman of the committee, told Davis: “Doesn’t it strike you as rather strange that government undertakes impact assessments on all sorts things all of the time, that on the most fundamental change that we are facing as a country, you have just told us the government hasn’t undertaken any impact assessments at all?”
But the Brexit secretary claimed: “You don’t need to do a formal impact assessment to understand that if there is a regulatory hurdle between our products and a market it will have an impact,” he said.
“The assessment of that effect is not as straight forward as people imagine. I am not a fan of economic models because they have all proven wrong.”
He added: “We will at some stage do the best we can to quantify the effect of different negotiating outcomes as we come up to them.”
Davis said the “paradigm shift” of Brexit, similar to that of the financial crash, meant it hard to conduct reliable economic forecasts.
He noted the Queen had asked “why did we not know” the 2008 crisis would happen.
The committee session came after MPs won a battle to force the the government hand over its 58 studies into different sectors of the economy.
Davis said an “impact assessment” was a formal Whitehall term for a document and they did not exist when it came to Brexit.
“What we tried to do is give you as best we could,” he told the committee. “Without hindering our negotiating position and without compromising commercial confidentially or sensitivity.”
Labour MP David Lammy said Davis should “resign” and be locked up in the Tower of London for contempt of parliament.
“Watch this and make your mind up about whether this lying, duplicitous, incompetent, arrogant, making it up as he goes along absolute shower is fit for office in leading us through Brexit. Resign,” he tweeted.
Lib Dem committee member Wera Hobhouse accused Davis of “misleading Parliament” over the studies.
“It is unbelievable that these long-trumpeted impact assessments don’t even exist, meaning the government has no idea what their Brexit plans will do to the country,” she said.
“Ministers must now urgently undertake these impact assessments and ensure people are given the facts.”