David Davis: The value of Brexit impact studies are "near zero"

 
Catherine Neilan
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Davis said the usefulness of Brexit impact studies would be "near zero" (Source: Getty)

David Davis has once again insisted no sectoral analyses for the impact of Brexit exist - including for the impact of leaving the customs union - saying he is "not a fan" of economic models.

The Brexit secretary told MPs on the Exiting the EU select committee the usefulness of such a model would be "near zero" because of the "paradigm shift" represented by the break with the European Union.

When asked if individual assessments had been conducted, Davis said "not in sectors". He was then prompted with specifics including auto, aerospace and financial services sectors.

"I think the answer is going to be no to all of them," Davis replied.

"Doesn't it strike you, secretary of state, as rather strange that given... the government undertakes impact assessments on all kinds of things all of the time, that on the most fundamental change we are facing as a country you've just told us that the government hasn't undertaken any impact assessments at all looking at the impact of Brexit on the economy?" committee chair Hilary Benn asked.

"No," said Davis.

Once the government has a better idea of how negotiations are panning out, "we will do the best we can to quantify the impact of the outcomes" in certain areas, including financial services, he said this morning. Davis told the committee the government would "only know how much tax revenue the UK will lose from the City when the final form of Brexit is known".

But Davis was grilled over his repeated claims studies did exist, with MPs including Benn and his Labour colleague Seema Malhotra noting he appeared to be changing his position over the course of many months. See below for a timeline detailing the government's position.

Davis also told the committee no formal assessment of leaving the customs union had been taken before cabinet decided on that course of action. "We took a judgement," Davis said.

"Isn't that quite extraordinary?" asked a surprised Benn. An unruffled Davis replied: "No, no."

It comes after Davis was attacked yesterday for releasing papers on its Brexit analysis under tight restrictions - even though what has been made available is little more than already exists in the public domain.

Only MPs and Lords have been granted access to the papers, in a room organised by Davis' Department for Exiting the EU (DexEU). But parliamentarians have slammed the move, with one MP describing it as "a farce".

Lib Dem Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said it was "very hard to spot anything that couldn't be published and the EU would not be aware of already", adding the papers did not "provide any sense of the impact of a hard or soft Brexit on each sector."

"Brexit's a leap into the dark," he added.

Brexit impact studies: A timeline

December 14, 2016: Davis tells MPs that his department is “in the midst of carrying out about 57 sets of analysis” on the impact of Brexit on different sectors of the economy.

June 25, 2017: Davis tells the BBC: “We’ve got 50, nearly 60 sectoral analyses already done.”

October 26, 2017: Davis tells MPs that these analyses are written in “excruciating detail” - to such an extent that the PM has only read a summary.

October 30, 2017: Dexeu publishes a list of sectoral analyses

November 1, 2017: MPs vote for Mr Davis to hand over the analyses, so they can be examined by the Brexit select committee. Committee chair Hilary Benn then piles pressure onto Davis for them to be published.

November 7, 2017: Davis says it is "not the case" that these analyses exist.

November 28, 2017: Davis could be in contempt of parliament over heavy editing of studies, says shadow Brexit minister Keir Starmer.

December 5, 2017: Dexeu informs MPs that papers are now available, on a restricted basis, in a room that only MPs may access.

December 6, 2017: ​Davis says no impact studies have been carried out

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