David Davis has once again insisted that no sectoral analyses for the impact of Brexit exist, saying he is “not a fan” of economic models.
The Brexit secretary told MPs of the Exiting the EU select committee that 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?” Benn replied. “No,” Davis said.
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 that studies did exist, with MPs including the committee chair Hilary 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 that 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”.
Brexit impact studies: A timeline
December 14, 2016: Davis, the Brexit Secretary, 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”.
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.