K E Y P O I N T S
- David Davis has revealed at Westminster on Wednesday that the government has not conducted any formal assessments into what impact Brexit will have on key sectors of the British economy.
- The Brexit Secretary said this was because he is “not a fan” of economic models as they are always “wrong”.
- However, asked about impact assessments in October, Davis said documents existed that went into “excruciating detail”.
- And in June he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme that “50-60 sectoral analyses” had been conducted.
- There has been an ongoing row over whether or not the government will release to MPs 58 unredacted papers on different sectors.
S N A P V E R D I C T
From Paul Waugh
So, is it incompetence, insincerity or (calculated) inscrutability that explains David Davis’s twists and turns on the Brexit impact assessment papers? The Brexit Secretary has often boasted that he favours “creative ambiguity” in his public statements on the UK’s prep and plans for quitting the EU. Yet many MPs believe he has finally, conclusively been caught red handed in misleading Parliament.
Davis’s argument to explain away his different answers is that, like many things on Brexit (eg ‘regulatory alignment’) and in Whitehall, he is being careful with his language. He claims ‘Impact Assessment’ is a formal term and process that was different from the work he referred to a year ago.
That may be the case, but it still leaves him open to all three charges above. HuffPost understands that the formal, technical assessments were started just weeks ago after the Commons demanded them. That they weren’t actually in existence prior to then only adds to the overall impression Davis, and Theresa May, are not serious about the problems of leaving the EU.
B E S T L I N E S
I am not a fan of economic models because they have all proven wrong. David 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? Brexit committee chairman Hillary Benn grills David Davis
W H A T H E S A I D B E F O R E
David Davis told Labour MP Seema Malhotra at the Brexit committee in October that Theresa May had seen the “summary outcomes” of studies.
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?
Davis: She will know the summary outcomes of them. She will not necessarily have read every single one. They are in excruciating detail.
Malhotra: Has the Cabinet seen the analyses?
Davis: No, they will not have. They will have seen the summary outcomes. That is all.
Malhotra: I imagine there may have been interest expressed if they covered the areas of other Secretaries of State.
Davis: They would have elements of their own departments. Of course they will have a view of anything their own department is responsible for, yes.
David Davis told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme in June:
“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.”
W H A T H A P P E N S N E X T
David Davis is now likely to face demands from opposition MPs he explain whether he misled parliament, whether on purpose or by mistake. The row increases pressure on the government as Theresa May attempts to rescue her Brexit divorce deal from being derailed by opposition from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).