Greg Hands must have drawn the short straw at Tory HQ to be sent out to try and downplay David Davis’ conflicting statements over Brexit impact assessments.
The International Trade Minister resorted to doublespeak to defend Davis but was torn apart by Andrew Neil in a bizarre exchange on the BBC’s Daily Politics.
First, Hands tried to argue about “what exactly one defines as a sector” – not the strongest argument given the Government actually published the list of the 58 sectors they said they had analysed.
Then he said whether the assessments exist or not is a “matter of interpretation”, arguing that there are a “set of sectoral analyses” but not a “sector by sector analysis”.
“In December, he said he was carrying out 57 different sectoral analysis, today he said there aren’t sectoral analysis, both of these cannot be right?” @afneil to @Greghands on David Davis answer to Hilary Benn #bbcdp pic.twitter.com/oPIJMIjyST
— BBC Daily Politics and Sunday Politics (@daily_politics) December 6, 2017
Hands employed similarly evasive tactics later on Radio 4’s World at One programme.
Liam Fox’s understudy said the Government had carried out “sector analyses” rather than “impact assessments as such”.
When Hands was reminded that Davis had explicitly told MPs that the Government were measuring the “impact” of Brexit on the economy and asked if Davis had therefor misled MPs, he replied:
“No I don’t think so. This is about analysis, rather than an assessment. You may think that’s semantic but it’s important.
“There isn’t actually a quantified study out there of what impact Brexit might have on all these individual sectors. There is however a qualitative analysis of looking across the economy of what it would be.”
The point is that Davis implied on at least six occassions that his department was creating a quantified study of what impact Brexit would have on different sectors.
The difference between two ring binders full of stuff on Google and an economic forecast is not semantic…