The Brexit Papers Have Been Released & They Are Awful

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This man should not be in Government!

( No really, I mean it!)

David Davis has an odd effect on me. Whenever I see him appear on the TV or see his picture in the paper or online I always feel drawn to pay attention to whatever idiocy he’s espousing this week. Like a moth to a flame I start reading or listening about the latest hijinks that Davis has been up to, and without fail I always end up in a borderline fit of rage.

I mention all of this because I want you to understand that I’m not new to the whole disliking David Davis thing. I am up to date with all of his idiocy. From his run for leader when he had female supporters sport T-shirts which read “It’s DD for me”, to his lacklustre approach to negotiation where he wanders up to his European counterparts with no notes, no preparations, and only the winning smile of a man who’s nowhere near as handsome or charismatic as he thinks he is. Everything Davis does manages to rub me up the wrong way. I thought he had piqued with this threat, and consequent failure to carry out the threat, of resigning if Damian Green was kicked out of Government, but he has somehow managed to surpass this. Davis has once more managed to demonstrate a quality that drives me insane: Incompetence.

Today, the Department of Exiting the European Union, which David Davis is in charge of, released the much-discussed Brexit sectoral impact assessments. You remember those, don’t you? They were the reports that David Davis said went into excruciating details about the impact of Brexit, which he then admitted to Parliament didn’t actually exist. Turns out they do exist… sort of. I say sort of, because in no meaningful way can the documents that have been released be called impact assessments. You can call them reports, but only in the same way that the essays I wrote in year 8 in Geography could be called reports. They both lack meaningful detail and are overly reliant on Wikipedia as a primary source. In short, they’re crap.

You can find all of the papers here if you want to go crazy and look at them yourselves, but I can summarise exactly how bad they are with a single run through of the Financial Technology Paper.

There are a number of things which stand out on this paper, but the fact that it’s 4 pages long should start ringing some alarm bells. Fintech is an area which, according to the paper itself, covers a number of subsectors which are quite varied. The listed areas are:

1) Investment, advice and neo-banks

2) Back-end systems and compliance

3) Payments and technologies underpinning digital currencies (eg. Bitcoin)

4) Alternative finance

Each of these areas has a vastly different background of regulation behind it, something that the report itself does recognise, but then doesn’t really go into any detail on. I happen to have worked on a number of clients at work which were FinTech businesses and I know for a fact that the regulatory hoops they jumped through were immense, and each was completely different. The vendor that sold software for managing and reporting on Stocks had a VERY different set of requirements for compliance than the Insurance management software provider. Both of these would fit into the back-end systems category and have a number of different aspects of compliance to deal with. For stocks, you have reporting compliance around UCITs and AIFMD, and insurance has requirements around keeping personal data safe.  Changes on compliance in either area can impact on the necessity for numerous types of Fintech solutions as much of the sector is built on the notion that the software itself makes life easier for financial service companies to deliver their offerings to customers. That I can point to just two small examples of one sub-section of the overall sector which you could easily spend 5-10 pages on just outlining the possible scenario’s and their overall impact, and the entire document as released is 4 pages gives you an idea of how bad this document is.

Aside from making my blood pressure spike, the lacklustre nature of these documents also causes a few other problems. Not least of which is the fact it makes it look like the Government doesn’t know what it’s doing, and doesn’t know what to expect in terms of handling Brexit. This means that there’s not going to be any leadership from the Government across basically all the sectors of the economy that the UK relies on, outlining what to expect, what they will need to do to prepare and what that means for businesses, employees or the economy as a whole.

The lack of leadership and analysis from the Government means that businesses are going in blind as to what Brexit will mean for them, or indeed their clients and customers. This limits their ability to prepare, which will mean that we run the risk of businesses not creating new jobs as they don’t know what the future will hold. That lack of inward investment by businesses then has the potential to cause ripple effects in other areas. Lack of job creation can lead to wage stagnation which is an area we’re already struggling with as a nation, and if the government had done its homework it would have outlined in it’s strategy for Brexit what actions could be taken if we ended up in the scenario  like I described above. Instead though, David Davis has wasted everyone’s time and copied and pasted some basic definitions and statistics from the internet.

I’ve literally written papers at university that were of higher quality than this. That this is the sort of work and preparation that DexEU is undertaking leaves me very concerned for the next phase of Brexit negotiations.