What sort of politician would do this?

You will all remember the moment at the Brexit Select Committee when Hilary Benn asked David Davis whether the Tory government had done any assessment of the impact of leaving the customs union with the EU before deciding to pursue that policy. To an incredulous reaction David admitted that they had decided to leave a customs union with our largest trading partner without any sort of impact assessment.

If you missed it you can watch again here

Understandably this was met with amazement and anger from opposition politicians. What sort of politician would advocate such a huge economic change for his country without even asking what the impact on jobs and trade would be?

The SNP, for example, rightly attacked the failure of the government to ask for an impact assessment before pursuing the policy of leaving the single market and customs union as “staggering” and a “serious dereliction of duty.”

These are strong words, which I strongly agree with. A trait of the populism and nationalism of today’s politics is that leaders take policy positions without any care for, or even interest in, the detail and impact of their positions.

Which is why on the day David Davis made his admission I submitted an FOI to the SNP Government to ask for:

Copies of any impact assessment done into the economic impact of an independent Scotland being outside of a customs union with the rest of the UK (assuming for example the rest of the UK had left the European customs union and Scotland voted to become independent). In the event this analysis cannot be shared I would appreciate confirmation as to whether such an analysis exists.

It’s worth outlining quickly why this matters. The SNP are currently using the UK’s possible exit from the single market and customs union as the excuse for re-running the “once in a lifetime” referendum of 2014 on whether to leave the UK. They are pursuing, as government policy, leaving the United Kingdom, because the UK is leaving the EU customs union, and in order that Scotland remains in the customs union. The First Minister made this clear once again today. The First Minister wants Scotland to be in the customs union with the rest of the EU because the rest of the UK won’t be in that customs union if David Davis has his way.

Surely a party that is attacking the Tory government for not having carried out an economic impact assessment of their policy of leaving a customs union with the UK’s largest trading partner wouldn’t have done exactly the same, would they?

Unbelievably they have.

This afternoon I got the response to the FOI back. It confirms that the SNP Government, just like David Davis have carried out no economic impact assessment on being outside of a customs union with Scotland’s biggest trading partner, the rest of the UK.

What sort of politician would advocate such a huge economic change for their country without even asking what the impact on jobs and trade would be?

A nationalist.

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