SNP accuse David Davis of contempt of parliament over lack of Brexit assessments


The SNP’s Westminster shadow leader has written to the speaker of the house over the issue

PETE WISHART, the SNP shadow leader in the House of Commons, has written to the speaker urging that contempt of parliament proceedings be undertaken, following Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis’s confession to parliament’s Brexit committee on Wednesday morning that no impact assessments on leaving the EU have been carried out by the UK Government.

Wishart told Buzzfeed News: “I’ve already indicated to John [Bercow] that I’ll be raising a point of order today to outline what happened at the Brexit committee and suggest this can’t go on.

“I’ve written to him in my second letter to say I believe the government are in contempt of the House.” SNP Westminster shadow leader Pete Wishart

“I’ve written to him in my second letter to say I believe the government are in contempt of the House and I know he’s been extremely patient and generous with them, but now it has to end and it’s quite clear that they are in contempt, so I’m asking him to make a further ruling.”

After Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Wishart raised his point of order to speaker John Bercow, who responded: “Aware though I am of reports of this morning’s exchanges in the committee, I do not propose to rush to judgment now on the basis of what may be incomplete reports of what was said in the committee this morning.”

Bercow continued: “When I receive [the committee’s report] I will study it without delay and I will return to the House.”

READ MORE: Scotland can “make a stronger case against Brexit”, says European think tank chair

During Davis’s testimony before the Brexit committee, he revealed to MPs who have been seeking any impact assessments conducted by the UK Government on the potential economic consequences of Brexit that no such analysis existed, saying: “There’s no sort of systematic impact assessment.”

Labour MP Hilary Benn, who chairs the committee in question, responded to this by asking the Brexit secretary: “So the government hasn’t undertaken any impact assessments on the implications of leaving the EU for different sectors of the British economy? So there isn’t one, for example, on the automotive sector?”

Davis answered: “No, not that I’m aware of.”

READ MORE: Hard Brexit “cliff edge” could cost Scotland £30 billion

When pressed by Benn on whether such formal analysis had been carried out on aerospace on the financial services, Davis replied: “I think the answer’s going to be no to all of them.”

Benn said it was “rather strange” that the government undertakes impact assessments routinely, on various policies, but hadn’t done so on “the most fundamental change we are facing”.

Davis went on to say that the UK Government had not embarked upon any assessment of the impact of leaving the EU custom union before the policy of doing so was decided upon.

“The usefulness of such a detailed impact assessment is near zero.” Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David David

Elaborating under questioning, Davis said that, due to the fact that economic models can often be inaccurate, it was not necessary carry out specific impact assessments on particular sectors of the British economy, due to the fact the UK Government’s stated aim is to secure a comprehensive free-trade agreement that would cover the entire British economy.

Davis continued: “Therefore the usefulness of such a detailed impact assessment is near zero.”

However, Davis’s testimony conflicted with comments he had made earlier. In June, while appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Davis said: “We’ve got 50, nearly 60 sectoral analyses nearly done.”

Despite Davis’s claims regarding the usefulness of such analysis, the Irish Government has been carrying out impact assessments since the 2016 referendum on leaving the EU.

Picture courtesy of English PEN

Look at how important CommonSpace has become, and how vital it is for the future #SupportAReporter