David Davis accused of 'blatant lying' and contempt of Parliament over Brexit impact papers

Posted On: 
6th December 2017

David Davis has been accused of “blatant lying” after he revealed the Government had not produced detailed assessments of how Brexit will affect the economy.

David Davis appearing at the Brexit select committee this morning
Credit: 
PA

Furious MPs piled into the Brexit Secretary, suggesting he had misled the Commons and could even be subject to contempt proceedings.

The row came after Mr Davis told MPs on the Brexit Select Committee that he had not made any impact assessments, but only “sectoral analyses” detailing the size and scope of various industries.

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He argued that because the Government was seeking an all-encompassing trade deal, the usefulness of doing assessments for individual industries would have been “near zero”.

His admission appeared to put him at odds with a motion passed by the Commons which called for ministers to release “impact assessments”.

And it seemed to contradict his own evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee in September 2016, when Mr Davis said his department was “working through about 50 cross-cutting sectors, what is going to happen to them, what the problems of those industrial groups are, and so on”.

In February of this year he told the Commons: “We continue to analyse the impact of our exit across the breadth of the UK economy, covering more than 50 sectors”

Labour MP and strong Remain campaigner David Lammy tore into Mr Davis on Twitter, calling him “mendacious, conceited, vain, duplicitous, wholly unfit for office”.

His colleague Chuka Umunna told the Commons there was a “clear contradiction” between this morning’s committee evidence and a statement given by Mr Davis on 20 October , where he mentioned “an assessment of 51 sectors of the economy”.

“[This] to me provides strong evidence that perhaps this House has been misled on this issue,” Mr Umunna said.

The SNP’s Pete Wishart also waded in about the 1 November motion, saying ministers had “singularly failed to meet the requirements of that binding vote in the House six weeks ago and must surely be in contempt”.

Commons Speaker John Bercow fended off a series of Points of Order on the subject, telling MPs he would consider the evidence of the Brexit committee before reaching a conclusion.

He also pointed out that it was up to individual MPs to write to him if the believed the Government had been guilty of contempt of Parliament.