David Davis’s Secret Brexit Reports Ridiculed As ‘Wikipedia-Lite’

Lords say unpublished extracts show firms want a ‘soft Brexit’
PA Wire/PA Images

David Davis’s Brexit impact reports have been ridiculed as “meaningless”, “shoddy” and “Wikipedia-lite” after Parliament finally published the secret documents.

Edited versions of the long-awaited papers were released by the Commons Exiting The European Union Select Committee on Thursday - only to be greeted with a mixture of mockery and disdain for their lack of analysis.

Critics dismissed the documents, with jibes claiming they were “as illuminating as an in-flight travel magazine”, “clueless”, “dog-ate-my-homework” and emptier than the “Iraq dodgy dossier”.

But it also emerged that parts of the documents – which were not published because of Government worries about the impact on talks with Brussels - included pleas from industry to ministers to ensure a ‘soft Brexit’.

The Lords EU Committee, which has also seen the full papers, revealed that “sector views” showed British firms wanted minimal disruption from the UK’s departure from the EU.

It urged Davis to publish the full documents, including opinions from business that they want to keep access to EU workers, the lowest barriers to trade, cross-border services and data sharing.

One extract from the documents.
One extract from the documents.
HuffPost UK

The published papers included 39 reports on different economic sectors, with various industries’ views on the impact of Brexit edited out.

The papers were drafted following a long battle by MPs after Davis had claimed his department had “excruciating detail” on the work being done on how the EU exit would affect different industries from car manufacture to ports.

Davis later drew a distinction between impact assessments, which he said did not exist, and “sectoral analyses”, which are more limited in scope.

The analyses cover everything from aerospace and agriculture to tech and fisheries and life sciences.

A Brexit department spokesman said: “Our analysis is not, nor has it ever been, a series of impact assessments examining the quantitative impact of the UK’s EU exit on the 58 sectors.

“We are undertaking a comprehensive programme of analytical work. These reports are a part of that. They are not exhaustive, nor are they the final say on any of these issues.”

Yet many people were unimpressed by the actual documents, which describe each sector rather than offering analysis let alone forecasts of various types of Brexit.

Labour MP David Lammy said: “What a farce. Most of this could be found on Wikipedia or with a quick Google search.”

Eloise Todd, chief of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign group, said: “These reports are the most useless and shoddy piece of work a government department has ever produced. Even the Iraq Dodgy Dossier had some useful information in it.

“These are a mess that a sixteen-year old wouldn’t be proud of. It is a masterclass in copy and paste.”

Other critics were vocal online.

Tom Brake, the Lib Dem Brexit spokesman, added: “This is the biggest case of the dog ate my homework the world has ever seen.

“We’ve been given binders of old information, extracts from Wikipedia, and a few choice quotes, and yet nothing at all on how Brexit will hit each sector.”

Labour MP Seema Malhotra, who sits on the Brexit committee, said: “In my view, the reports fall far short of the impact analysis the Government implied it was doing a year ago. It remains unclear if these are the original reports or have been written in the last two months.”

Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said: “For reports that purport to analyse the impact of Brexit on different sectors, what leaps out at you is the total absence of analysis. Search, and you do not find.”

Lord Jay, the former FCO chief who now chairs the Lords EU Committee, sent an open letter to Davis urging him to publish the documents’ sections that covered the views of industry.

“Views on particular Brexit options, such as single market membership, differ across sectors, but in most cases there is a wish to minimise disruption and uncertainty.

“A number of themes recur in the views of stakeholders. These include: access to EU labour; the minimisation of tariffs and regulatory barriers to trade; data sharing; mutual recognition of qualifications; access to cross-border services; and the importance of EU R&D funding.”


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