David Davis admits: Ministers have made no assessment of Brexit impact

Posted On: 
6th December 2017

David Davis today admitted the Government has made no assessment of the impact of Brexit on the UK economy.

Brexit Secretary David Davis was grilled by MPs today
PA Images

In a humiliating grilling by MPs, the Brexit Secretary said ministers had been working on “sectoral analyses” but insisted those differed from the called-for impact assessments.

Last week the Government was forced to release an 850-page summary of the current Brexit landscape for MPs to read in secret.

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A Commons motion which the Government refused to oppose specifically bound it to release 'impact assessments' on quitting the EU.

It came after Mr Davis and other ministers insisted they had been studying how Brexit would affect more than 50 sectors of the economy and implied specific outcome documents existed.

But in an often tense grilling by the Brexit Select Committee - during which he shifted uncomfortably and fiddled with his glasses - Mr Davis was taken to task by angry MPs.

Asked whether the Government had undertaken impact assessments for financial services and other specific areas of the economy, Mr Davis said: “I think the answer’s going to be no to all of them.”

He added: “We are looking at the effect. Do not draw the conclusion that because you use the word ‘impact’ you have written an impact assessment.”

And he said other than the overall economic forecasts issued by independent Treasury analysts, there was “no sort of systematic impact assessment”.

He said the ‘sectoral analyses’ of individual sectors were different to a forecast of what might happen when the UK quits the EU.

“You use the word impact assessment, I’ve been using the word sectoral analysis. They are different,” he argued.

Mr Davis also admitted the Government had done no “formal quantitative” economic assessment of leaving the European customs union before it took the decision to do so.

He said the “usefulness” of doing impact assessments had been “near zero”, but 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.”

Asked why ministers had not tried to vote down or amend the Commons motion last month demanding the impact assessments, Mr Davis said it would have been a fight over nothing.

“The motion asked for things that don’t exist. I tried to get as close to that as I could within the parameters that my duties as a minister allow,” he insisted.

MPs lashed out at the Brexit Secretary on Twitter, accusing him of being “incredibly incompetent or incredibly dishonest” and of a “dereliction of duty”.