Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

United Kingdom made no estimate of Brexit's economic impact

United Kingdom made no estimate of Brexit's economic impact

The Brexit Secretary was today forced to admit that the government has not assessed the impact of Brexit for different sections of economy to the European Union select committee.

Mr Davis was quizzed by committee chairman Hilary Benn, who said: "Doesn't it strike you as rather unusual that the Government undertakes impact assessments of all sorts of things all the time, but on the most fundamental change that we are facing as a country, you've just told us that the Government hasn't undertaken any impact assessments at all on the implications for various parts of the economy?"

The minister told the Brexit committee that the "usefulness" of producing of detailed impact assessments into specific sectors was "near-zero", despite having previously suggested that such assessments existed "in excrutiating detail".

DAVID DAVIS today admitted that some of the reports produced by his department "weren't that good" and insisted it was impossible to predict the impact of Brexit.

"Well I think the answer is going to be no to all of them".

Benn replied "Isn't that extraordinary?"

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The Brexit secretary said: "Not that I'm aware of".

Asked why he had failed to clarify the difference months ago, he said he had always used the phrase "sectoral analysis" - but accepted that he should have corrected MPs earlier.

But he told the committee he had tried to provide "the closest we could" to what the House of Commons had demanded, subject to his responsibility not to release information which was commercially sensitive or could undermine the UK's negotiating position. "Which is it? Either it has happened or it hasn't".

In an exchange during which Mr Davis was said to look "frazzled", he 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". The studies conducted, he said, were not a "quantitative economic forecast of outcome".

These were, he said, sectoral analyses, started in 2016, which were "essentially looking at what the industries consist of, looking at the size of them in terms of revenue and capital and employment and so on".

He added: "Now it's all very useful and it's the under-pinning of a lot of policy but it's not a forecast of the outcome of leaving the European Union or indeed various options there of".

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