Brexit deepens UK’s political crisis

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 09, 2018


Minister in-charge of Brexit admits there had been no sector-wise impact assessments of the exit

The crisis gripping the British government showed little sign of abating on Wednesday, as David Davis, the Minister in-charge of Brexit, admitted that there had been no sector-by-sector impact assessments of Brexit, appearing to contradict earlier reassurances he had given around the level of analysis conducted by the government.

Appearing before the Exiting the European Union Committee, chaired by Labour MP Hilary Benn on Wednesday, Davis insisted that there was no need for a formal impact assessment to understand regulatory hurdles.

“I am not a fan of economic models as they have all been proven wrong,” he told the committee on Wednesday.

In June, Davis had told the BBC that “50 or nearly 60” sectoral analyses had already been done, while in response to a question in October on whether the Prime Minister had seen impact assessments that had not yet been published, he answered.

“She will know the summary outcomes of them. She will not necessarily have read every single one. They are in excruciating detail,” he insisted, at the time.

The revelation triggered a political storm in Britain. “Did he know & lie? Or not known so is incompetent fantasist,” tweeted Labour MP Yvette Cooper, while another MP David Lammy called for him to resign.

“He simply cannot be allowed to go around lying to Parliament and the British public in this way. Mendacious, conceited, vain, duplicitous, wholly unfit for office.”

“This really is a shambles,” declared Labour leader Jeremcy Corbyn, facing a beleaguered Prime Minister Theresa May at the weekly Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday.

“This government is not fit for the future. Wouldn’t it be best if they just got out of the way.”

The past week has been one of the most tumultuous for the British government since Brexit negotiations began, after what appeared to be an agreement on the route forward on the Irish question – how to maintain no hard border between Northern Ireland and the EU border, while maintaining the “constitutional integrity” of the UK, while exiting the single market and the customs union - the government was forced into an embarrassing climb down after the Northern Irish party and Conservative government ally, the DUP, vetoed what was on the table.

“We will not accept any form of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically, or politically from the rest of the United Kingdom,” DUP leader Arlene Foster said earlier this week.

Britain would leave the EU customs union and the single market, Therese May continued to insist on Wednesday, amid a raucous session in Parliament in which MPs laughed down the Prime Minister’s suggestion that “very good progress” had been made on Brexit negotiations.

“Nothing is agreed till everything is agreed,” she insisted.

Earlier this week, business organisation the CBI called for clarity on Brexit negotiations as the momentum in private sector growth slowed in the three months to November.

Irish question

While May has insisted the details of the Irish question are for the second stage of negotiations with the EU, EU leaders have insisted that talks cannot move to the second stage – around the question of a future trade deal – until three questions around Britain’s divorce bill, the rights of EU citizens and the Irish question had been answered.

A failure to reach an agreement on Ireland this year could push those crucial negotiations into the New Year. Britain is set to leave the EU in March 2019.

Published on December 06, 2017

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