Michael Gove provokes laughter for his ridiculous answer on Brexit impact papers

Michael Gove is challenged by Hilary Benn over the lack of Brexit impact paper. Photograph: Parliame

Michael Gove is challenged by Hilary Benn over the lack of Brexit impact paper. Photograph: Parliament TV. - Credit: Archant

Michael Gove was left looking foolish after saying the government would not produce Brexit impact papers as they would not be an 'accurate prediction of the future' - days after it published one about a US trade deal.

Michael Gove pours water over the suggestion... and then his phone. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Michael Gove pours water over the suggestion... and then his phone. Photograph: Parliament TV. - Credit: Archant

Appearing in front of the Future Relationship with the European Union Committee, chair Hilary Benn challenged the Tory Brexiteer to produce an economic assessment paper on the government's proposed Brexit plans for trade with the EU.

Gove insisted such documents are not an accurate reflection on what could happen after Brexit, and so ministers would not be doing the analysis for what might happen after the transition period.

He said: 'We're going to take a different approach. We're going to invite from across a range of organisations their views on what the impact of a free trade agreement with the EU and consequent changes might be.

'I am personally sceptical of efforts to say that any given impact assessment by a government department is... er, er... an accurate prediction of the future.'


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He added that they were 'not the most effective ways of delivering a proper range of views about what the economic consequences of a course of action might be.'

That baffled Benn who pointed out the government had done the same days before for a US trade deal, which showed there could be less than a 0.2% boost to the economy by agreeing to one, while costing much more as a result of leaving the EU.

'So if that's the case why did the government produce sixty pages of economic assessment of the free trade deal agreement with the United States of America if you're not persuaded of the benefit of such an assessment.'

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To laughter, Gove stuttered that it was an 'evolving picture'.

'I think it is called a contradiction,' commented Benn.

'No I don't think it is, I think it is an evolving picture and I am not persuaded of the merits of publishing assessments and the assuming they are going to give an accurate prediction of the future.'

As Gove metaphorically poured cold water on a Brexit assessment paper, the flustered minister then literally did so over his notes and mobile phone.

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