David Davis slapped down by Speaker over Brexit impact studies delay

Posted On: 
6th November 2017

John Bercow has issued a firm slapdown to David Davis after the Cabinet minister tried to delay handing over a cache of secret Brexit impact studies.

Brexit Secretary David Davis wrote to Hilary Benn today
Credit: 
PA Images

The Brexit Secretary today said it would take time to pull together the evidence from a string of assessments into how quitting the EU will affect British businesses and jobs.

But the Commons Speaker said the documents must be given to the Brexit Select Committee “very promptly indeed” and demanded a Minister explain the situation to the House tomorrow.

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In a unanimous Commons vote last Wednesday, MPs ordered the Government to deliver the 58 impact assessments to the powerful committee to decide if they should be made public.

But Mr Davis tried to buy time today in a letter to committee chair and Labour MP Hilary Benn.

“It will take my department – and other departments, since this work draws on inputs from across Government – time to collate and bring together this information in a way that is accessible and informative for the Committee,” he insisted.

But Mr Bercow suggested the plea was not good enough as he was asked for his ruling on the matter in a parliamentary point of order this afternoon.

“The motion passed on Wednesday obliges ministers to provide the committee on exiting the European Union with the impact assessments arising from sector analysis,” he told MPs.

“That should be done very promptly indeed.”

“Failing that, I expect ministers to explain to the House before we rise tomorrow evening why they have not provided them and when they propose to do so.”

Elsewhere in his letter, Mr Davis sparked confusion by claiming the 58 individual impact assessments did not “exist” in the form understood by the opposition.

“It is a wide mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis, contained in a range of documents developed at different times since the referendum,” he explained.

The claim came despite the Government last week publishing a list of the 58 specific sectors that have been looked at.