On Wednesday morning, Brexit Secretary David Davis told the select committee on exiting the European Union that the government had not produced “impact asessments” on how Brexit will affect different parts of the UK economy. He also admitted that the predictive model his department is using to predict what will happen is not a “formal quantitative one”.
Which is strange, given the number of times he, his fellow ministers and government spokespeople have talked about the in-depth analysis being carried out, and the effort they went to to avoid publishing that information earlier this year because it might supposedly undermine negotiations with the EU.
Davis’s claim appears to revolve around what he claims is the difference between an analysis of the impact of Brexit and the supposedly technical term “impact assessment”, which is also strange given it’s not something he thought to clarify at any point over the least 12 months. According to Davis those “individual sectoral analysis will not necessary be informative”, and in any case he, is “not a fan” of impact assessments in any case. Which is all very reassuring.
Anyway, below are the many, many times Davis and his colleagues have referenced detailed, wide-ranging and sensitive work on what will happen after Brexit, that he now says doesn’t really exist.
14 December 2016
Davis to Brexit Committee:
“It won’t be next month. The policy work is still underway; there are quite a few decisions still to be made. We’ve carried out or are in the midst of carrying out about 57, I think, sectoral analyses, each of which has implications for individual parts of 85 per cent of the economy, and some of those are still to be concluded.
“We have work still to be done on justice and home affairs, so there is a fair number of things still to do. So it will be as soon as we’re ready.”
25 June 2017 (Andrew Marr Show)
David Davis: “We’ve already got 50, nearly 60 sector analyses already done.”
14 August 2017
David Jones (department minister) in a letter: the Department for Exiting the European Union has “conducted analysis of over 50 sector of the economy.”
8 September 2017
Steve Baker (Brexit minister): “The Department for Exiting the EU has indeed conducted analysis of over 50 sectors of the economy, covering financial services, energy, retail, infrastructure and transport, to name but a few.”
29 September 2017
Brexit Department (in response to freedom of information request from Labour MP Seema Malhotra): the studies were completed; “we intend to publish the information.”
22 October 2017
Dr Liam Fox (on Peston on Sunday): “Why would we publish data in a negotiation that might actually diminish our negotiating hand?”
26 October 2017
David Davis responding to a question from Seema Malhotra on whether Theresa May had seen the “impact assessments”: “She’ll know the summary outcomes of them…She won’t necessarily have read every single one, they are in excruciating detail.”
31 October 2017
Government spokesman: “This list details the 58 sectors that are used in the analysis and covers the breadth of the UK economy… this analysis is closely tied to our negotiating position and it would undoubtedly be detrimental to our interests in the negotiation to publish it.”
1 November 2017
Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom on when the studies would be released: “It is absolutely accepted that the motion passed by the House yesterday is binding and that the information will be forthcoming.”
Davis: ministers would be “as open as we can”.
Baker: “There has been no suggestion of redaction.”
7 November 2017
David Davis in written statement to Parliament: “The sectoral analysis is a wide mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis contained in a range of documents.”