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Government does impact assessments on drains, TV comedy and coach trips – but won’t draw up a formal report on Brexit

MINISTERS were branded “incompetent” today after it emerged they have carried out impact assessments on everything from TV comedy to drain standards – but not on Brexit. Yesterday David Davis confirmed the Government hasn’t done any formal analysis on how quitting the EU will affect Britain’s economy. But The Sun can reveal ministers have previously […]

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MINISTERS were branded “incompetent” today after it emerged they have carried out impact assessments on everything from TV comedy to drain standards – but not on Brexit.

Yesterday David Davis confirmed the Government hasn’t done any formal analysis on how quitting the EU will affect Britain’s economy.

getty
Ministers once carried out a 25-page impact assessment on drains[/caption]

But The Sun can reveal ministers have previously published detailed reports on standards for drains and the impact of copyright law on telly satire.

Opposition politicians claimed the Tories were paying more attention to trivial issues than to the all-important process of leaving the EU.

Mr Davis left MPs open-mouthed yesterday when he told them the Government had not done a formal impact assessment on Brexit’s economic impact.

The Brexit Secretary claimed it was not possible to forecast how our EU departure will help or hurt business because it is a “paradigm shift” on the same scale as the 2008 financial crisis.

getty
The rights of bus passengers were examined in detail in one impact assessment report[/caption]

Handout
TV comedians had their rights examined in one detailed report published by the Government[/caption]

In previous years, the Government has produced impact assessments on a wide range of much less serious policies.

When new rules about who should manage communal drains were introduced in 2011, ministers drew up a 24-page document balancing all the ins and outs of the policy.

The next year, a 12-page assessment was published to analyse whether copyright laws should be loosened to help satirists on TV and the internet avoid being prosecuted.

Between 2013 and now, there have also been formal impact assessments on the appointment of a new Small Business Appeals Champion, new rights for passengers on long-distance buses, the regulation of adverts in cinemas and sleeping conditions on board commercial ships.

David Davis speaking to the Brexit select committee yesterday

Ex-Lib Dem leader Tim Farron blasted: “It is quite literally beyond parody that this government have failed to do the most basic of homework before triggering Article 50. Instead we’re nearly a year down the line and David Davis is having to cheat in the exam.

“It is standard procedure to produce an impact assessment when enacting new policies. The Government have failed to follow recommended procedures laid out clearly on their own website.

“It is the Government’s own incompetence to blame for them being left clueless over Brexit. They’re flushing Britain down the drain.”

MPs voted to force ministers to publish the results of Brexit impact assessments – only to be told the reports never existed in the first place.

Instead, Mr Davis has provided the Commons with a summary of economic analyses carried out on 57 different business sectors by Brexit civil servants.

Only 16 MPs actually read Brexit reports they forced ministers to release

Just 16 MPs and Lords have read key Brexit papers after they were published by David Davis, it emerged today.

Opposition leaders responded with fury when ministers tried to prevent the release of the economic reports drawn up by civil servants.

But after the 850-page dossier was provided to MPs and peers, only a handful have bothered to consult it, Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom said.

She was responding to Labour’s Valerie Vaz, who slammed the Government for making MPs book an appointment to read the file.

Ms Leadsom said: “The Opposition have absolutely caused enormous headlines and publicity over this issue.

“The House will be interested to know the sum total of 16 members of this House and the House of Lords have taken the trouble to see that analysis that has been made available.”

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Theresa May’s EU compromise is ‘not ideal’ says Iain Duncan Smith but key Brexiteer claims Brussels budged too – and it now opens door for a trade deal

THERESA May’s EU compromise is “not ideal”, according to Iain Duncan Smith but the key Brexiteer claims Brussels has budged too and it opens door to the UK getting a trade deal. The former Tory leader gave a cautious welcome to the agreement the Prime Minister signed with Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday, saying “I’m not […]

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THERESA May’s EU compromise is “not ideal”, according to Iain Duncan Smith but the key Brexiteer claims Brussels has budged too and it opens door to the UK getting a trade deal.

The former Tory leader gave a cautious welcome to the agreement the Prime Minister signed with Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday, saying “I’m not ecstatic”.

Theresa May’s EU compromise is ‘not ideal’ says Iain Duncan Smith
PA

It comes as Mrs May prepares to update MPs on the progress of the talks, where he is set to take an upbeat stance on securing a Brexit deal.

But Ireland insists the UK must stick to its commitments on keeping a soft border with the Republic, after David Davis caused a row by suggesting the plans hammered out last week were only a “statement of intent”.

He appeared to row back on those words, branded “bizarre” by the Dublin government, in an interview with LBC this morning.

In a u-turn he said the UK’s commitment to the Irish border as “much more than legally enforceable”.

But the key Brexiteer claims Brussels budged too and it opens the door for a future trade deal
Getty

The PM has to now convince the Brexiteers in her Cabinet about the details of the draft agreement when she assembles her top team for a meeting in Downing Street this morning.

But one of the key anti-EU Tory backbenchers is supportive of the deal, which should allow the other EU leaders to agree “sufficient progress” has been made to move on to trade and transition talks at Thursday’s crunch summit.

Mr Duncan Smith, writing in the Telegraph, said: “The draft agreement reached by Theresa May does not make me jubilant, but nor do I feel betrayed.

“The EU has budged on several crucial points, and the way is now open to discuss a proper free-trade agreement that the British people voted for.”

It comes as Mrs May prepares to update MPs on the progress of the talks, where he is set to take an upbeat stance on securing a Brexit deal
PA

He attacked the draft agreement released last Monday, which was scuppered by the DUP, saying it was “left open the possibility that Northern Ireland might have a separate position to the rest of the UK, which was unacceptable”.

He also said on “regulatory alignment” it left open the possibility the EU would try to exploit its “vague language to keep us inside the single market and customs union in all but name”.

The ex-Cabinet Minister said the new wording helped correct this, but added: “Most importantly, though, all this can be torn up tomorrow, because ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.”

And trying to calm those who are unhappy with the deal, he went on: “Some Leavers are crying betrayal and believe they have been sold out. I think that is incorrect.”

Speaking in the Commons on the proposed first phase text Mrs May is expected to say ‘this is not about a hard or a soft Brexit’
PA

He added: “While this agreement is not ideal, it doesn’t stop us from taking tough lines where we need to.

“It simply gets us through the first round, and I believe it has left us in a better position than we were last Monday, for it has opened the door to a deal.”

Speaking in the Commons on the proposed first phase text Mrs May is expected to say: “This is not about a hard or a soft Brexit.

“The arrangements we have agreed to reach the second phase of the talks are entirely consistent with the principles and objectives that I set out in my speeches in Florence and at Lancaster House.”

And she will tell MPs: “There is, I believe, a new sense of optimism now in the talks and I fully hope and expect that we will confirm the arrangements I have set out today in the European Council later this week.

“In doing so we can move on to building the bold new economic and security relationships that can underpin the new deep and special partnership we all want to see.

“A partnership between the European Union and a sovereign United Kingdom that has taken control of its borders, money and laws once again.

A partnership that is in the best interests of the whole United Kingdom.  And a partnership which can deliver prosperity and security for all our people, for generations to come.”

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David Davis U-turns over Irish border deal and says it IS legally binding after sparking fresh Brexit rift

DAVID Davis has been forced to row back on claims that Britain’s promises on Ireland were not legally enforcable”. The Brexit Secretary today stressed Britain’s commitment to a frictionless Irish border – even if we don’t get a deal with the EU. The Brexit Secretary risked fury with Ireland yesterday after he said last week’s […]

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DAVID Davis has been forced to row back on claims that Britain’s promises on Ireland were not legally enforcable”.

The Brexit Secretary today stressed Britain’s commitment to a frictionless Irish border – even if we don’t get a deal with the EU.

David Davis has rowed back on his comments about the Northern Ireland border

The Brexit Secretary risked fury with Ireland yesterday after he said last week’s tightly-fought deal was just a “statement of intent” and would not be signed off if there was no deal with the bloc.

A key section of Theresa May’s “phase one” divorce agreement with the EU vowed to align the UK with EU rules in Ireland to prevent a ‘Hard Border’ between the North and Republic.

The Irish Government branded his statement “bizarre” and insisted they would hold the UK “to account” on it.

But the Brexit Secretary told LBC Radio today that his words had been “twisted” and he was misquoted.

Mr Davis said that last week’s agreement with the EU was ‘more than legally enforceable’
Reuters

Mr Davis said: “We want to protect the peace process, want to protect Ireland from the impact of Brexit for them, and I said this was a statement of intent which was much more than just legally enforceable.”

He went on: “Even if that didn’t happen for some reason, if something went wrong, we would still be seeking to provide a frictionless invisible border with Ireland.

“The bit about the full alignment argument on the issues which affect the peace process in the Belfast Agreement, we would look to that anyway because one of our absolute underpinning aims is to ensure that Ireland and particularly the Northern Ireland peace process is not harmed.”

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he was “delighted” to hear that the Brexit Secretary had “clarified” his remarks.

But a European Commission spokesperson added this morning that the “joint report is not legally binding”, but it was seen as a “gentleman’s agreement” that both sides shook hands on.

Mr Davis stressed a hard border would be avoided even with no deal.

But he admitted that negotiations with the EU had been “testy” the past few months.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire also doubled down on his reassurances this morning.

He said today that “no one should be in any doubt at all as to our commitment to following this through”.

Theresa May and David Davis lastweek met with EU chiefs to agree a deal to progress with Brexit
PA:Press Association

Theresa May secured agreement with the EU to finally move on to trade talks last Friday, after working through the night and flying out to Brussels to seal the deal.

It was almost held up over the thorny issue of the Northern Ireland border – but overcame issues by agreeing to “allign” rules with the EU.

The small print and exact way the border will be worked out will be the subject of future talks.

Later this week the EU27 will meet to formally agree whether they are happy to move on to talking trade.

David Davis claims he doesn't need to be clever to do his job

DAVID Davis doesn't have to be clever or know much to be Brexit Secretary, all he has to do is try and stay calm.

The Cabinet minister made the extraordinary admission in an interview with LBC this morning.

He said that “anybody” could do his job too.

Mr Davis said: “What’s the requirement of my job? I don’t have to be very clever or know that much. I just have to be calm.”

And he said that he was probably “shackled” to his job until the end of the Brexit process unless he’s booted out.

He said: “I suspect I am shackled to the mast, unless they decide I am not very good at it in which case they’ll sack me.

“Anybody can do details. I’ll let you do the details.”

He also used the interview to say that he didn’t believe economic forecasts because they had “all been proved wrong”.

And he refused to blame our vote to leave the EU for inflation rises.

“These things bounce around, you can’t attribute it to Brexit,” he stressed.

EU officials said after progress was made on the border, citizens rights and our divorce bill, they are happy to recommend we start talking about a future deal.

Today Mrs May will try to sell the deal to her sceptical backbenchers – who are concerned about how much we’re going to have to pay to leave.

She will bid to unite her feuding cabinet too over Brexit as she declares a “new sense of optimism” about the EU talks.

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We are over the first Brexit hurdle… now we want free trade with the EU

BRITAIN has cleared the first major hurdle towards striking a Brexit deal – despite all  the pessimists warning of impending doom. It’s not a perfect outcome and won’t please everyone 100 per cent. But now we have made progress on the Irish border, the size of the divorce bill and EU citizens’ rights, we can […]

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BRITAIN has cleared the first major hurdle towards striking a Brexit deal – despite all  the pessimists warning of impending doom.

It’s not a perfect outcome and won’t please everyone 100 per cent.

Britain may have cleared the first hurdle but there is still plenty of work ahead

But now we have made progress on the Irish border, the size of the divorce bill and EU citizens’ rights, we can start discussing the more important issues of trade and future relations.

Before we do though, we really must learn to stop going into meltdown every time these talks run into the buffers.

It is certain to happen again as we move into the more difficult stages but as we learned this week, when things go wrong, you go home, sleep on it and move forward.

As we go into these negotiations one idea must remain at the forefront of our minds — whatever deal we get with the EU will not be as important as the decisions we make once we have left.

Contrary to some of the shouty nonsense we heard from both sides of the referendum campaign, leaving the EU will guarantee neither failure nor success.

When a young adult sets off from his parents’ home, the act of leaving is only the first step.

It is a daunting time, with many risks and much uncertainty, but it is what that person does with their new-found freedom that really counts.

The same will be true of Britain’s future outside the EU.

Reuters
Theresa May and Jean-Claude Junker shake hands at EC headquarters[/caption]

Over the coming weeks we will learn how much Europe’s elite want to maintain their current trading relationship with us.

Three issues will dominate discussions:

FIRST, what degree of freedom will we have in the way we regulate our economy?

SECOND, to what extent will we be able to determine our own tariff regime and strike trade deals with other nations?

And THIRD, what control will we have over our borders?

We will have to make compromises in all three areas.

But before that, we need a clear understanding of what we want to achieve.

No such vision has yet emerged from the UK Government.

AFP - Getty
Whatever deal we get with the EU will not be as important as the decisions we make once we have left[/caption]

The process of national debate is beneficial and important. But there comes a moment when leadership is needed.

The Government must now set out its aspirations for our future outside the EU.

Regulation and red tape is likely to be the first battleground.

Some people argue we should aim to be like Norway. It almost completely aligns its regulations with the EU to get the best possible access to its markets.

But Norway must take rules from Brussels without a say in how they are shaped.

As a result, it is burdened with 93 of the 100 costliest EU regulations.

Such arrangements impose costs on an economy and restrict its freedom to strike trade deals outside the EU.

For me, it comes down to who will make the laws that govern our country. I am sure we will choose to implement many of Europe’s regulations going ­forward, but that choice must be ours.

All new regulation involves choices between competing interests. Our interests in remaining aligned to the EU will be one important consideration, but only one.

There are other competing interests — importers, exporters, producers, consumers, the environment and the economy — and deciding between them will be hard.

But the choice must be made here, taking account of Britain’s unique circumstances.

Rules in the EU are designed on a one-size-fits-all basis.

They are a compromise between 28 countries, not tailored for each country’s specific situation.

Rules to protect newts might make sense in parts of Europe where they are endangered, but not in the UK, where builders find them in abundance.

As a result of this and other inappropriate regulation, the EU’s Habitats Directive makes it harder and more expensive to build the houses we ­desperately need.

To accept the idea of independent regulation we need to eliminate one pervasive and muddled myth.

PA:Press Association
Simon Wolfson is a Conservative life peer and chairman of pro-Brexit think tank Open Europe[/caption]

Many believe that unless we are bound by European regulation, Britain will be unable to trade with Europe.

I work for a company that imports products from inside and outside the EU and sells them into 70 different countries across the globe.

So I know an exporter does not need to impose the EU’s rules in its own markets to export to the EU.

Individual companies can still make their products comply with overseas regulations.

How else does China, India and the US manage to do so much business with Europe?

Failure to agree equivalent regulation may increase the administration of crossing borders but will not prevent UK companies trading with Europe.

The Government has already sensibly said it will not rip up the EU rule book as we leave.

And of course we will keep many rules that help secure a deal and a soft border with Ireland.

But we should not bind ourselves, for the rest of time, to abide by unknown future rules over which we have no control.

For this reason, a Norway-style arrangement will not work for the UK, nor is it the only available model.

In my mind the vision is clear — we should aim to trade fairly and freely with Europe and, if possible, we want them to have the same privileged access to our markets that they currently enjoy and we would like the same in return.

But the price of that access cannot be to surrender the freedom we have over our future regulation, tariff rates and trade deals.

Canada’s trade deal with Europe provides an excellent starting point for such an agreement and a launch pad for a healthy, peaceful and prosperous ­relationship with the EU.

It should be the starting point for our negotiations with the EU.

  • Simon Wolfson is a Conservative life peer and chairman of pro-Brexit think tank Open Europe.
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