On Wednesday 15 March, Brexit Minister David Davis was giving evidence to MPs about the government’s progress on leaving the EU. But it may be a meeting he’ll wish to forget, as ‘car crash’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.
‘Building the Lego blocks’
The Brexit Select Committee was questioning Davis over the government’s plans after the Brexit bill passed through parliament. But some of his answers left MPs stunned.
Among Davis’ ‘highlights’ were that he said leaving the EU was like a famous children’s toy:
When we finish building the Lego blocks, we’ll build the house.
And that if the UK left the EU without a deal about economics and trade, it was:
not as frightening as some people think – but it’s not as simple as some people think.
But it was Davis’ answers on the economic effects of Brexit that seemed to concern MPs most. He said:
- He couldn’t work out what it would cost the UK if it left the EU without a deal. But he added “I may be able to do so in about a year’s time”.
- “You don’t need a piece of paper with numbers on it to have an economic assessment.” But he then admitted the government hadn’t done one, anyway.
- The government’s pledge that the UK would have the “same economic benefits” outside the EU was just “an ambition”, not a promise.
- He hadn’t looked into whether Britons holidaying in Europe would lose their right to free healthcare.
- The government didn’t know the effects of leaving the EU on people’s personal data.
- UK farmers would face larger bills for trading outside the single market.
- Northern Ireland would end up with a “soft border”, not a “hard” one.
Davis was upset that the committee had not asked him about the “upsides” to leaving the EU.
But Labour MP Pat McFadden said:
Without an assessment, you have mortgaged the country’s economic future to a soundbite.
Davis confirmed that the government would trigger Article 50 in the last week of March. And that the Brexit bill was expected to be given Royal Assent on Thursday 16 March.
Stop messing about
If anyone was unsure of whether the government’s Brexit plans were looking decidedly dodgy, Davis’ shambolic responses to MPs just confirmed it. “Soft” and “hard” borders; playing with Lego; not needing numbers when doing economic assessments. The process of the UK leaving the EU is already turning into a total shambles.
– Read more from The Canary on Brexit.
Featured image via screengrab