DAVID DAVIS was accused yesterday of “unforgivable recklessness” for failing to conduct impact assessments on the economy once Britain leaves the EU.
The Brexit Secretary was hauled in front of the Brexit select committee to come clean about the government not having conducted any assessments on how leaving the EU would affect different sectors of the economy.
He said back in October that work of “excruciating detail” had been done for the 58 reports. Last month, a parliamentary motion demanded that he hand them over.
Instead, he handed over 850 pages of heavily redacted “sectoral analyses” setting out detail about the current position of different parts of the economy.
General union GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “It’s time that ministers put people’s jobs first and urgently conduct and publish the impact assessments so people can plan for the future.
“Without them, we’re flying blind.”
During the select committee meeting yesterday, Mr Davis claimed that the usefulness of assessments would be “near zero” because of the scale of change which Brexit is likely to cause.
Committee chairman Hilary Benn said it was “quite extraordinary” that no assessment had been made of the impact of leaving the customs union “given the momentous nature of that decision.”
Mr Davis was accused last week by some MPs of contempt of Parliament after it emerged that the information handed over to the committee by the Brexit department had been edited.
Labour MP David Lammy has contacted Commons Speaker John Bercow to seek advice on beginning contempt proceedings against Mr Davis and other ministers he believes have misled Parliament about the analyses.
Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said: “This is beyond farcical. Davis is either grossly incompetent or someone who struggles with the truth and treats MPs with contempt.
“Either way, he should be out of his job.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asked PM Theresa May during Prime Minister’s Questions about the sectoral analyses.
She said: “We will not give a running commentary on the negotiations.”
Mr Corbyn asked her earlier in the session to clarify the government’s position on the Irish border.
Ms May replied that the government does not want a hard border between the two regions.
To Labour MPs’ cries of “How?” she said that it would be sorted out during the second phase while negotiating a trade agreement.