Davis accused of misleading parliament over Brexit assessments


At least two MPs - Labour's David Lammy and the SNP's Pete Wishart - approached Commons Speaker John Bercow to ask whether contempt proceedings could be triggered.

Despite repeated past promises to the contrary, the UK's Brexit Secretary had admitted his office's 58 studies on the effects of leaving the European Union actually don't exist.

"Whether it's through incompetence or insincerity, David Davis has been misleading Parliament from the start", she said.

Mr Davis replied: "There's nothing...there's no such systematic impact assessments that I'm aware of".

Benn asked how the assessments could not exist when the Brexit secretary had previously told MPs in September past year there were sectoral analyses for "about 50 cross-cutting sectors, [for] what is going to happen to them".

Seema Malhotra: Could I ask you another question?

Mr Davis told the committee: "You don't need to do a formal impact assessment to understand that, if there is a regulatory hurdle between your producers and a market, there will be an impact". Surely a failure to make such assessments was "a dereliction of duty" given we are about...

Lib Dem MP Vera Hobhouse said Davis' comments revealed the goverbment had "no idea what their Brexit plans will do to the country".

In June of this year Davis said "we've got 50, almost 60, sectoral analyses already done", which today has been outed as a complete untruth.

However in October he suggested impact assessments did exist and that Theresa May had read the "summary outcomes of them" if not every "excruciating detail".

"Ministers must now urgently undertake these impact assessments and ensure people are given the facts". Davis then said the information did not exist in this form.

There was anger among MPs last week when he gave the committee two lever-arch files containing 850 pages of what he termed "sectoral analyses" setting out the current position of various parts of the United Kingdom economy. Many said this was not sufficient to comply with parliament's request.

"We will at some stage, and some of this has been initiated, do the best we can to quantify the effect of different negotiating outcomes as we come up to them", he said.

And he said it was "quite extraordinary" that no assessment was made of the impact of leaving the customs union "given the momentous nature of that decision".

The government was forced into releasing information from Brexit impact studies - which show the potential effect of leaving the European Union on various sectors - after Labour won a vote effectively forcing its hand. The contingency planning included proposals for areas like customs and aviation, but "don't have numbers attached to them" and so didn't constitute a forecast, he said.