David Davis branded a 'charlatan' as critics blast 'copy-and-paste' Brexit impact reports

David Davis is facing fresh criticism over Brexit impact reports

David Davis is facing fresh criticism over Brexit impact reports

Thursday, December 21, 2017

David Davis is facing demands to publish "sectoral analyses" of Brexit in full as critics brand the Brexit Secretary a "charlatan."

The demand comes after partially redacted reports described as "copy-and-paste essay crises" were released by a parliamentary committee.

The Commons Exiting the European Union Committee published 39 of the Government's reports on different economic sectors, but redacted the industries' views on Brexit.

Committee chairman Hilary Benn said the documents were partially redacted after he clarified with the Brexit Secretary what material should not be published because it is commercially, market, or negotiation-sensitive.

But Lord Jay of Ewelme, acting chairman of the House of Lords EU committee - who has previously described the analyses as "underwhelming" - said there was no reason why the information could not be published in full.

"They pose no risk to the UK's negotiating position, and making them publicly available would, in our view, only promote an informed public debate on the options for Brexit," he said.

Labour MP David Lammy, a leading member in efforts to get the Government to publish its assessment of the potential impact of Brexit, said: "What a farce.

"Most of this could be found on Wikipedia or with a quick Google search.

"David Davis clearly misled the House and then set his civil servants the unenviable task of coming up with these documents in a couple of weeks. They look like copy-and-paste essay crises."

Mr Davis handed over the documents after the Commons passed a Labour motion calling on him to publish 58 sectoral studies.

But he faced accusations of misleading Parliament after admitting no impact assessments of Brexit had been made.

Previously, he had told MPs as early as last December that his department was "in the midst of carrying out about 57 sets of analyses" on different parts of the economy.

In a TV interview in June, he said nearly 60 sector analyses had been completed and in October he told the Brexit committee that Prime Minister Theresa May had read "summary outcomes" of impact assessments, which he said went into "excruciating detail".

In the end, all that was handed over was two lever-arch files containing 850 pages of what Mr Davis termed sectoral analyses.

Each document published by the committee on Thursday contains an overview of the sector in the UK, the current EU rules it must comply with, and existing frameworks for how trade is facilitated between countries.

In a letter to Mr Benn on November 3, published by the committee, Mr Davis explained: "Let me clarify exactly what this sectoral analysis is. It is a wide mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis, contained in a range of documents developed at different times since the referendum.

"It examines the nature of activity in the sectors, how trade is conducted with the EU currently in these sectors and, in many cases, considers the alternatives after we leave as well as looking at existing precedents.

"This analysis ranges from the very high level overarching analysis to sometimes much more granular level analysis of certain product lines in specific sectors.

"Our analysis in this area is constantly evolving and being updated based on our regular discussions with industry and our negotiations with the EU.

"But it is not, nor has it ever been, a series of discrete impact assessments examining the quantitative impact of Brexit on these sectors."

Eloise Todd, chief executive of the Best For Britain campaign, said: "These reports are the most useless and shoddy piece of work a government department has ever produced. Even the Iraq 'dodgy dossier' had some useful information in it.

"These are a shoddy mess that a 16-year-old wouldn't be proud of. It is a masterclass in copy and paste.

"David Davis has been shown up for the charlatan he is. He needs to consider his position."