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Smith Square Review – 1 December 2017

Davis makes a EUge mistake

This week on the Smith Square Review, we are going to take you on a journey – the journey of David Davis and the mysterious Brexit impact assessments (it is more interesting that it sounds, we promise).

The first mention of Brexit impact assessments was from David Davis himself. In December last year, Davis told MPs that his Department was “in the midst of carrying out about 57 sets of analysis” of the impact of Brexit. In June this year, he told the BBC that “we’ve got 50, nearly 60 sectoral analyses already done.”

Davis doubled down in October when, being questioned by Seema Malhotra MP in front of the Committee on Exiting the European Union, he stated that the analyses were in “excruciating detail” – so much so that the Prime Minister hadn’t yet had the time to read them all.

Unfortunately for Davis, all of his impact assessment related bragging led to the Brexit committee to asking if they could see the impact assessments themselves. Perhaps this was a level of parliamentary sovereignty not expected by the Leave-campaigning Minister.

After hearing these demands, Davis then claimed that actually, the analyses were not fit for public consumption, and he needed ‘time’ to bring them together – even though just weeks prior he had boasted of their detail and rigour.

After being compelled by the Speaker to give the reports to the Brexit committee, Davis was then forced to hastily create some impact assessments, which nobody would have been calling for had he not spoken about them in the first place, and hand them over to Hilary Benn MP, the committee chair.

Just to round it all off, huge sections of the reports are redacted, due to their ‘commercial sensitivity’ – leading to the unfortunate realisation that this may have all been a complete waste of time.


Putting a price on happiness

With a royal wedding looming on the horizon there’s one thing which will be bound to bring joy to monarchists and republicans alike – a bank holiday. Yet, Number 10 has decreed that there will be no public holiday to celebrate the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

There are many reasons in favour of an extra public holiday in the UK. Chief among them is the fact that England and Wales is one of the countries in the world with the fewest public holidays – even the industrious Americans get two more than us.

Detractors of bank holidays, however, claim they cost the UK money because most people don’t work on a bank holiday and shops close. An Impact Assessment by DCMS from 2012 in relation to the Diamond Jubilee bank holiday is often cited as evidence that public holidays have a negative impact on the economy. The margin of error in the report though means that bank holidays could have a potential positive of boost of 1.1bn to the economy.

You may remember that Jeremy Corbyn promised four extra bank holidays ahead of the General Election this year. A cynic would claim that the Conservative’s opposition to a bank holiday is more related to party political reasons than fears over lost GDP. Reader, we’re full of far too much goodwill for the happy couple to think such thoughts.


May the battle commence

The time for holding hands is, apparently, over – as Donald Trump started a Twitter battle with Prime Minister Theresa May this week. The always controversial President ‘started it’ by re-tweeting anti-Islamic videos posted by a British far-right extremist group ‘Britain First’. The initial tweets were posted by Jayda Fransen, the Deputy Leader of the group, with one allegedly showing a Muslim migrant attacking a man on crutches.

The re-tweets were met with almost universal condemnation – especially since one of the videos shared is, funnily enough, ‘fake news’. The video, apparently showing a muslim migrant attacking a Dutch citizen, actually showed an incident between two Dutch nationals. Not only that, the assailant has already been prosecuted.

Theresa May said in a statement that the President was ‘wrong’ to share the tweets which appears to have put some strain on the ‘special relationship’. The President then tweeted at the Prime Minister: “don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom”. But his response unfortunately lacked any punch because he used the wrong Twitter handle, launching another little known British woman Theresa Scrivener into the lime light. For a man who spends so long on social media, you would have thought he would have got the basics. 


Haringey Development Vitriol

Harangued Haringey Council made national headlines this week, as Momentum has allegedly ‘purged’ the local Labour leadership of non-believers in the run up to next year’s local elections, indicative of the wider arguments taking place in Constituency Labour Party meetings across the country.

Moderate councillors such as Barbara Blake, Cabinet member Ali Demerci, and Council housing chief Alan Strickland have either lost or stepped down, complaining of “narrow factionalism” within the Party. But Momentum supporters cite the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) as the crux of the matter.

Opposition to the council’s plans to entre a 50:50 partnership with a private developer to regenerate £2-billion’s worth of public land assets is certainly a hot potato. While there is consensus on the borough’s dire need for new housing, locals and Stop HDV campaigners are concerned that the ‘power share’ proposed would offer little accountability, has not had sufficient public consultation, and would yield little that is affordable to locals in real terms.

The total of anti-HDV candidates selected is now 29, out of a total of 57 councillors in Haringey of any party, giving them a firm majority. Faced with an impending coup, clobbered Clare Kober, Council Leader for the past nine years and chief proponent of the HDV, may be wondering whether she ought better to have invited Jon Lansman to carve up the tofu this year.

Tensions are running high, particularly given that neighbouring Labour-led Camden rejected a similar scheme in August. And let’s not forget that Haringey has seen the highest increase in property value over the past year across all the London boroughs, at 12%.

As we are not standing for selection or need worry about appeasing any faction, we have no qualms pointing out that none of the selected Momentum candidates have made suggestions as to what to replace the HDV with.


Souvenir of the week

Jeremy Corbyn appeared on the cover of GQ this week (yes, you read that right). But, it turns out, the Editor of the magazine did not particularly enjoy the experience.