Sector-by-sector Brexit impact forecasts do not exist, says David Davis
Brexit Sector-by-sector Brexit impact forecasts do not exist, says David Davis
Brexit secretary also tells MPs government did not carry out study of economic impact before decision to leave EU customs union
The UK government has produced no economic forecasts on the likely impact of Brexit on various sectors of the economy, the Brexit secretary, David Davis, has t old a committee of MPs who have attempted to examine the studies.
Answering questions from the Brexit select committee, Davis also said there had been no economic impact study undertaken before the cabinet decision to leave the EU customs union, and no assessment had been made of the possible economic effect of a no-deal Brexit.David Davis: we haven't assessed impact of Brexit for different sections of economy - Politics live Read more
âThereâs no systematic impact assessment,â Davis told the committee, which had summoned him to explain why it had not received more information from the studies following a House of Commons vote calling for their release.
Hilary Benn, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, asked Davis if the government had carried out any forecasts on the possible impact of Brexit on the automotive, aerospace, or financial services sectors.
Davis replied: âThe answerâs going to be no to all of them.â
Asked by Benn whether there had been any economic assessment of the impact of leaving the customs union, he replied: âNot a formal, quantitative oneâ.
Benn said Davisâs admission was âquite extraordinaryâ. Davis said it wasnât, arguing that there were a âphenomenal number of variablesâ to take into account.
The government has been under intense pressure to release its impact assessments on Brexit since a Labour motion demanding their publication was passed unanimously in October; Conservative MPs opted not to vote.
Two files of information were passed to the Brexit committee, but some members said they appeared incomplete and limited.
On the impact assessments, a sometimes incredulous-sounding Benn asked Davis how they could not exist when he had told MPs in September last year there were sectoral analyses for âabout 50 cross-cutting sectors, [for] what is going to happen to themâ.
Benn said: âNow that sounds very clear to me that the government has been looking at the impact on individual sectors. And yet youâve told us a moment ago you havenât done that yet. Which is it? Either it has happened or it hasnât.â
Davis said: âDo not draw the conclusion that because you use the word impact you have written an impact assessment.â The studies conducted, he said, were not a âquantitative economic forecast of outcome. That is not there. We havenât done that.â
Davis argued that there was a misunderstanding over what the government had done. These were, he said, sectoral analyses, started in 2016, which were âessentially looking at what the industries consist of, looking at the size of them in terms of revenue and capital and employment and so onâ.
âThatâs all very useful and itâs the underpinning of a lot of policy, but itâs not a forecast of the outcome of leaving the European Union, or indeed various options thereof,â Davis said.
The documen ts passed to the committee contained information compiled âas best we couldâ, and left out information that could undermine the UKâs negotiating position or commercial confidentiality and sensitivity.
Benn asked: âJust to be clear, has the government undertaken any impact assessments on the impact of leaving the EU for different sectors?â
âNot in sectors,â Davis said, adding that the Treasury had produced a âpretty crudeâ forecast of overall possible economic impact of Brexit.
Benn pressed: âThe answer to the question is no?â
âNo,â Davis replied, explaining that such models were ânot as straightforward as people imagineâ due to the many variables. The sector-by-sector studies were begun when it was thought the talks with the EU might go ahead on this basis, he added.
Impact assessments would begin âa little closer to the negotiating timetableâ, Davis told the committee. âWe will at some stage â" and some of this has been initiated â" do the best we can to quantify the effect of different negotiating outcomes as we come up to them.â
Asked later about what work the government had done to plan for the possibility of leaving the EU without a trade deal, Davis said this also did not include any impact assessment.
âThe contingency planning will look at, for example, how in [a no-deal scenario] one facilitates customs traffic with minimum inconvenience if we donât have a customs arrangement; how one ensures we have bilateral aviation deals that are in place on the day that we leave so thereâs no hiccup there,â he said.
âAll of those things, they donât have numbers attached to them, they have actions and practical facts. This is why I keep on saying to you: donât conflate this with some sort of forecast.âTopics
- David Davis
- European Union
- Foreign policy
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