Former Brexit minister, who famously said there "would be no Brexit downsides”, admits benefits espoused by the Leave campaign have yet to materialise and Ireland will take years to recover from the protocol crisis.
Speaking to POLITICO’s Westminster Insider podcast, Tory grandee David Davis, admitted that the impact of Brexit on Ireland had been underestimated, pining the blame on ‘both sides.’
“I don’t think people saw all the outcomes there. I think that’s a fair criticism of the overall debate,” said Davis.
The Tory MP, who famously said there would be no downsides to Brexit, only considerable upsides, said that he accepts that many of the Brexit benefits championed by the Leave campaign have yet to materialise.
Speaking about the Northern Ireland protocol crisis, Davis said: “Ireland’s going to take a long time. It’s going to take a decade to get right, I think. Maybe I’m wrong about a decade, but it’s going to take years.”
Davis, who served as secretary of state for exiting the European Union from 2016 to 2018, suggested that former prime minister Theresa May had made “strategic errors” by allowing the NI issues to dominate the debate. Davis contends that May gave the EU too much ground in the sequencing on the withdrawal negotiations in 2016.
“I was shut out, basically,” he said. “No. 10 was running a parallel policy. They’re all Remainers — you’d expect it.
“They took the view that being ultra-reasonable would deliver the result, and it didn’t. I’m not saying that somehow she was some sort of traitor to the cause — she wasn’t. It’s a mindset.”
‘In the name of God, go!’
The Tory MP for Monmouthshire went on to criticise Boris Johnson , saying, “I’ve called for him to go.”
In the wake of the Partygate scandal and amid calls for Johnson to resign in January this year, during a chaotic prime minister’s questions Davis told Boris Johnson, “In the name of God, go.”
At the time, Davis had said he had spent, “weeks and months defending the Prime Minister” and reminding constituents of “his success in delivering Brexit and the vaccine rollout.”
Five months later, following an especially fraught week for relations between the UK and the EU, after the bloc confirmed it is taking new legal action over the UK’s proposed changes to the post-Brexit trading arrangements, and the former Brexit minister has admitted Brexit benefits have yet to materialise and the crisis on Ireland will take years to resolve.
Davis Downside Dossier
Davis’ comments have been met with criticism, called out for their irony and double standards. Twitter users pointed to the ‘Davis Downside Dossier’ put together by Yorkshire Bylines, listing the many downsides to Brexit, ranging from food prices rises to the impact on the stock market. The Davis Downside Dossier also lists the upsides to Brexit, but , according to the author, they are, “to put it mildly,” “more elusive.” The document also catalogues the ‘upsides’ that the government has claimed are benefits of Brexit, but are in fact fake.
Following Davis’ from “no downsides, only upsides” to “Ireland will take a decade to solve’ comments, it didn’t take long before the #ToryBrexitFarce hashtag was trending.
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward
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