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Britain yet to assess Brexit economic impact

Reuters

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London on Wednesday.

ReutersLONDON (Reuters) — Britain has not conducted formal sector-by-sector analyses of the impact that leaving the European Union will have on the economy, Brexit minister David Davis said on Wednesday, arguing they were not necessary yet.

The comments inflamed critics of the government’s handling of the complex divorce process at a time when talks with Brussels have stalled because of a row over how to manage the Irish border after Brexit.

Davis has become embroiled in a long-running argument with lawmakers — including from the ruling Conservative Party — over what preparatory work the government has undertaken, and how much of it should be made public.

“There’s no systematic impact assessment I’m aware of,” Davis told a parliamentary committee, saying it would be more appropriate to conduct such analysis later in the negotiating process.

His remarks drew immediate criticism from lawmakers on the committee, who said Davis was contradicting his previous statement that the government had analyses of the sectoral impact that went into “excruciating detail.”

“Whether it’s through incompetence or insincerity, David Davis has been misleading Parliament from the start,” said Wera Hobhouse, a member of the Brexit committee from the Liberal Democrat party.

“It is unbelievable that these long-trumpeted impact assessments don’t even exist, meaning the government has no idea what their Brexit plans will do to the country.”

Opposition lawmakers have pressured the government into releasing a summary of its analysis to the committee. On Wednesday, they complained that the analysis given to them was incomplete and called for more detail.

But the committee scrutinizing government policy on leaving the EU said they were satisfied that the government had fulfilled its obligations to publish the documents.

Nevertheless, pro-EU Labour lawmaker Chuka Umunna said he has written to the speaker of the House of Commons to ask if the government has misled Parliament.

Davis and his team of ministers have previously said its sectoral analysis is not a formal impact assessment — a technical document submitted to Parliament — and that publishing the work it has done could undermine Britain’s negotiating position.

“We will at some stage do the best we can to quantify the effect of different negotiating outcomes as we come up to them — bearing in mind we haven’t started phase two [negotiations] yet,” Davis said, referring to the second phase of talks which will focus on trade.

He said those assessments would look at the impact of different outcomes on sectors including financial services, manufacturing and agriculture.

Rights of Britons in EU secure

BRUSSELS (Reuters) — Britain will guarantee rights for as yet unborn children who join EU parents after Brexit and accept EU judges’ rulings on such rights, according to a draft European Parliament resolution seen by Reuters on Thursday.

The document, drafted on Monday for a vote next week before an EU summit that may launch talks on a future EU-U.K. free trade pact, also confirms that British Prime Minister Theresa May has secured agreement from Brussels that British citizens in the EU will be able to live freely in any member state after Brexit.

The resolution was prepared on the basis of an agreement May was about to sign on Monday before objections from her allies in Northern Ireland forced a postponement due to concerns on a plan to keep “regulatory alignment” between the province and the EU “to ensure no hardening of the border on the island of Ireland.”

It also lays out demands from the legislature, which must approve any treaty. These include limiting British benefits from any future agreement and an insistence London continue to abide by the European human rights convention. It also insists that Britain automatically adopt any new EU legislation passed after it loses its vote during a transition period after March 2019.

The draft makes no mention of a point under discussion on Monday when talks were interrupted that would end supervision of EU citizens’ rights by the European Court of Justice after a certain number of years. Two EU sources said that a compromise of 10 years — midway between a British offer of five and an EU demand of 15 years — appears the most likely solution.

One EU source said the compromise may be presented as two years during the transition period plus eight years after that.Speech

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