DAVID DAVIS faced calls to quit after admitting the government had done no studies of the potential impact of Brexit on the British economy.
The Brexit secretary was accused of misleading Parliament after he told MPs such assessments would have ‘near-zero’ value, having previously said that civil servants were analysing dozens of different sectors.
He was appearing before the Brexit select committee after being accused of failing to deliver 58 impact assessments demanded by a Commons motion last month. In October he told the same committee Mrs May had read ‘summary outcomes’ which went into ‘excruciating detail’, and last December said his department was ‘carrying out about 57 sets of analyses’.
But yesterday 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. I’m not a fan of economic models because they have all proven wrong. When you have a paradigm change — as happened in 2008 with the financial crisis — all the models were wrong.’
An 850-page document looking at the current position of different parts of the economy has now been made available to MPs. But Mr Davis said there had been no assessments of Brexit’s potential future impact on the 58 sectors listed by the government last month — including the automotive, aerospace and financial services sectors, and overall representing an estimated 29million workers.
Committee chairman Hilary Benn said his response was ‘quite extraordinary’ while Labour colleague Seema Malhotra called it ‘a dereliction of duty’.
Former Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron said: ‘David Davis needs to go,’ and accused him of writing Brexit strategy ‘on the back of a fag packet’.
Labour MP David Lammy had contacted Commons speaker John Bercow, urging contempt proceedings against Mr Davis, and said it was time to put the minister ‘in the Tower of London’.
Last night, the Brexit select committee ruled Mr Davis had not committed contempt of parliament, voting by 11 to eight not to refer him to Mr Bercow for investigation.