The consequences of failure in the Brexit talks will be “enormous”, Brexit Secretary David Davis said in his Conservative Party Conference speech today.
This contrasts with his previous claims that Brexit with no deal would be “not as frightening as some people think”, and his assertion that no deal would benefit Britain by increasing the amount of money brought in by the Treasury through import tariffs.
Commenting, Ian Murray MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:
“David Davis and other Brexit campaigners pretended all this would be easy and that there was no doubt that we would get a good deal.
“Since taking over as Brexit Secretary, he has ignored the Treasury’s alarming assessment of the economic impact of no deal, failed to carry out an alternative assessment of his own, and yet repeatedly claimed that leaving with no deal is “not as frightening as people think”.
“But today he seems to have changed his mind, warning that the consequences of failure in the Brexit talks would be ‘enormous’. People deserve some consistency and honesty, and they deserve to know what the real costs would be and what contingency work is being done.
“And if even the Brexit Secretary concedes that the costs are enormous, it is now time the Government abandoned their dangerous threat to leave the EU with no deal at all.”
Notes to editors:
In his Conference speech today, David Davis said: “The job the Prime Minister has entrusted to me is to keep a calm eye on our goal and not be diverted. Because the prizes for success are enormous. As are the consequences of failure.”
David Davis has previously downplayed the damage that leaving with no deal would do:
“In this process, we should work out what we do in the improbable event of the EU taking a dog in the manger attitude to Single Market tariff free access, and insist on WTO rules and levies, including 10 per cent levies on car exports. Let us be clear: I do not believe for a moment that that will happen, but let us humour the pre-referendum Treasury fantasy. In that eventuality, people seem to forget that the British government will be in receipt of over £2 billion of levies on EU cars alone. There is nothing to stop us supporting our indigenous car industry to make it more competitive if we so chose. WTO rules would not allow us to explicitly offset the levies charged, but we could do a great deal to support the industry if we wanted to. Research support, investment tax breaks, lower vehicle taxes – there are a whole range of possibilities to protect the industry, and if need be, the consumer.”
David Davis, Conservative Home, 14 July 2016
“She said that because, in the emotional aftermath of the referendum, there were lots of threats of punishment deals and all the rest of it. Let me be clear that we could manage this in such a way as to be better than a bad deal, and that is true. I cannot quantify it for you in detail yet. I may well be able to do so in about a year’s time, but it is certainly the case. Frankly, Mr Chairman, it is not as frightening as some people think, but it is not as simple as some people think.”
David Davis, evidence to the Select Committee on Exiting the EU, 15 March 2017