1. Exquisite Tweets from @IanDunt

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    Almost forgot David Davis in front of Brexit committee this morning. What joy parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/a4…

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    Ian Dunt

    Has govt undertaken economic assessment of there being no deal? DD: 'If you mean under my time, no.'

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    DD says he has briefed Cabinet on "what we had to do". Waffles on that 'yes or no' questions doesn't assess ability to mitigate.

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    Benn: 'I'm grateful for your advice on my style of questioning. Has there been any assessment since the referendum?'

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    DD: We need to make assessments of not just whole economy, but component parts. Now going on about bureaucratic delay ie customs checks.

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    DD basically saying they can;t assess because the variables, options and breadth of changes are too severe. Which is exactly the point.

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    "When we finish building the Lego blocks, we'll build the house." His answer is basically: No, because my God it's an impossibly huge change

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    Ian Dunt

    He does not explain why the government is threatening to do something it openly admits it does not understand.

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    Benn: Do you think leaving with no deal would be a bad outcome for the UK.' DD: I think I've just given you the answer

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    DD: We could not quantify the outcome. What you haven't asked me about are the plus sides.

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    On May statement that no deal is better than bad deal: 'That is true. I can't quantify it for you yet.'

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    DD: 'I do my job on the basis of facts, data, observational planning. Not throwaway lines. And that's what I'll do today.'

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    Is there a diff between a 'transitional deal' and an 'implementation period'. DD says this is about sequencing of divorce then trade deal.

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    Ian Dunt

    That doesn't really make any sense but whatever. DD now playing 'implementation' card - it's about having time to put things into effect.

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    Says it depends on what the deal is - a complete truism. And now says they are talking about negotiations and shouldn't be discussed.

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    As vacuous an answer as he cld give. Reality is that 'implementation' is PR phrase intended to assure Brexiters thing will be quick.

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    Emma Reynolds: There's still a risk this could take longer than 2 years? Reynolds not a good interrogator, but giving it her best.

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    DD trying to fob her off with our current equivalence. Point is that these talks are hard cos they are about building trust for the future.

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    DD: 'This deal is unique. The approach we have taken to it is unique too.' You can say that again mate.

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    Reynolds: Going for something more ambitious than CETA (Canadian deal). But that required ratification from all member states. Ours too?

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    DD admits that the deal "may" require ratifications from all member states. So to be clear: He wants to negotiate EU divorce,

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    Ian Dunt

    comprehensive trade deal, transitional terms AND have deal ratified in every EU member state parliament. In two years.

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    Ian Dunt

    I pray this man is lying. Because if he actually believes this stuff, we are in serious trouble.

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    I can confirm that Peter Lilley understands nothing.

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    DD: "You are reinforcing my point." Lilley: "I'm trying to." Really top class scrutiny here from the Tory MP.

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    Lilley's conclusion: "To have a transitional agreement you have to work out what you are transitioning to." I'm not making this up.

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    This is literally what they are fucking saying.

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    Ian Dunt

    DD argument on just-in-time trading relationships to minimise delay at borders etc is that we have tech to deal with this.

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    He is right. We do. Plus we can build up customs relations and mutual recognition arrangements to keep it smooth.

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    Ian Dunt

    The problem is that this requires lots and lots of work.

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    Unless there's evidencehe's approaching problem soberly & according to realistic timetable, there's no reason to believe he can deliver.

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    Raab: "Are you detecting an attitudinal shift in a positive direction?" This is the scrutiny DD being subjected to.

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    Even if you're a Leaver, you should value a Brexit committee that holds a sec of state to account. Raab, Lilley etc are cheerleaders for him

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    They are explicitly saying they are there to help him make his points.

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    Occasionally feel sorry for DD. He has business end of Brexit stick. Fox, the hapless mediocrity, gets OPTIMISTIC FUTURE TRADE DEALS bit.

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    And you can see the weight of the intellectual demand on him, alongside the likelihood of failure. If he wasn't putting the quality of life

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    in my country at threat because of a political hysteria he himself helped stoked, I'd feel more sorry. But he is. So I don't.

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    DD now being asked if there can be a 'dual-nature' of European Medecines Agency (which is in London).

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    This would be an "interesting innovative way" of tackling it. Jesus, these guys are lost.

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    Ian Dunt

    DD admits he's knackered after lots of travel. It's true. Looks shattered. When asked tough questions, which is rare, he is quick to anger.

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    Pat McFadden: You said no deal better than bad deal. But you haven't made an assessment of no deal. So why say it?

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    DD: "I have a pretty clear idea of how it will work out, I just haven't quantified it yet."

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    First he says they go for FTA, then contingency plan, then they will really on trade deals with rest of world.

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    DD: Sometimes in business you know a deal is better even when you don't have the numbers.

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    McFadden: "I hope the people affected by your no-deal option take some comfort from that."

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    DD: I make no apology for being ambitious. (Christ). McFadden: John Major said WTO option is worst possible outcome. Is that right? DD: No.

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    DD now leaning heavily on the 'EU punishment' narrative.

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    McFadden: Ivan Rogers says no major economy trades w EU only on WTO terms. DD says even in no-deal outcome he expects "some" arrangements.

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    DD stabbing away at McFadden a bit for not being "fair".

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    McFadden: Is it govt policy to give itself the option of defaulting to WTO terms with no parliamentary say?

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    DD: "We are talking about tiny probabilities here." He says they will make statement to the House.

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    Even tho we know policy, it's still astonishing to consider that UK gov would inflict such a change on the UK w/out giving parliament a say.

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    DD: "It's very important we make sure the mood and nature of our exchanges is controlled and amicable."

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    DD: "I am not one of those who don't like the European project." For other European countries, it is important, he says.

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    "Our friends are disappointed we're leaving." Quite interesting.

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    Burt: What have your studies told you about the value to the UK of migration? DD: Nothing yet but this is why I have started highlighting

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    Ian Dunt

    that this is not about pulling up the drawbridge. DD suggesting he is on concerted mission to say migration is needed.

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    DD says numbers won't drive everything in negotiations. It will be about "free movement vs control" rather than numbers.

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    Ian Dunt

    Sounds very much like government planning a very open system, possibly even job-dependant entry for EU workers, after Brexit.

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    Burt then says there are nuances around free movement of workers which allow govt to take back control. DD doesn't correct him.

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    Ian Dunt

    Again, sounds like govt might offer free movement to EU workers with a job offer, albeit as UK policy rather than as price of EU membership.

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    Ian Dunt

    DD points very welcome but v.hard to square them with May policy on 10s of thousands. Benn now making this point.

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    Where will numbers reduce then? EU or rest of world? DD: "I don't know."

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    Ian Dunt

    It'll be about meeting demand rather than distinguishing where ppl came from, DD says (that runs against my EU job-offer interpretation).

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    Ian Dunt

    You get the sense this is the subject of live debate around the Cabinet table. DD comments a bit all over the place.

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    On Irish border: "Fact is there is a border there now and excise duties but they are dealt with in subtle way. That's what we have in mind."

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    Admits won't be easy and requires money, esp on tech. Can only pray someone asks him how he will prevent hard in case of no-deal.

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    DD says EU Commission has strong interest in N.Ireland Peace Process. "We'll be able to solve this because we want to."

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    Ian Dunt

    DD told Ireland needs certainty. What will happen with customs ie for animals reared in north, slaughtered in south, etc.

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    DD: "This is a practical problem that needs to be solved. We need systems. We've got quite a lot of design work to do."

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    DD told free movement in Ireland is also "work in process". DD: "No, stop. You;re putting words in my mouth."

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    DD livid. Comes perilously close to accusing MP of risking return to violence in N.Ireland by spreading fears.

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    Ian Dunt

    That's a cheap defence. Altho tbf he was at time discussing one of the few relatively concrete bits of Irish issue

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    Ian Dunt

    (UK legal protections for Irish free movement - there are three protocols protecting this. Only real threat is a tabloid shitstorm later)

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    Ian Dunt

    SNP's Joanna Cherry: Can we meet the timetable? DD: "If the will is there it is technically possible to do it."

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    Ian Dunt

    She reminds him Barnier thinks we'll get 18 months. Still possible? DD: "Yeah, I think so." Amazing.

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    Cherry: You said you'd get Scottish approval of plan. Did you? DD: We promised Scottish people that, not the SNP.

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    "There are areas under debate (devolving agriculture and fisheries basically) and areas which are much more difficult" like demand to stay

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    SM. Interestingly, DD says they have technical work looking at that although expects little to come from it.

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    DD: "We said at the beginning: no veto." Cherry: "So no agreed Uk approach backed by Scotland?" DD: "I can't add to what I told you?"

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    Cherry: Was it correct when Telegraph said May wouldn't trigger A50 without that agreement? DD refuses to comment on "journalistic virtue".

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    Ian Dunt

    DD very good at avoiding questions. Seriously. After a while watching politicians you start to weirdly admire those who do it well. He does.

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    Ian Dunt

    DD: "Stance of Scottish govt on this has been a political one not necessarily in the interests of the people it is meant to represent."

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    Ian Dunt

    He really said that. He said it with a straight face.

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    Cherry [on meetings w Wales/Scot]: "I'm trying to understand you sec of state." DD: "I'm trying if you'll stop putting words in my mouth"

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    Cherry: There may not be any further meetings of joint ministerial committee before A50 triggered?" DD: "There may not."

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    DD looking haggered, hesitant, sometimes beleaguered, angry. Cherry: "Sec of state I don't want to reduce this to a political rally."

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    "I am simply asking if you will do the Scottish and Welsh governments the courtesy of producing a written

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    response to the detailed white paper produced by their govt." DD: They already got an answer in the meeting.

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    Ian Dunt