David Davis says Britain FINALLY ready to move to trade negotiations

Posted on Mar 17 2018 - 12:57am by admin

The Brexit Secretary spoke ahead of next Thursday’s summit in Brussels where Theresa May will seek to open detailed discussions about Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

An agreement in principle was sealed last December on the “divorce” issues of citizens’ rights, the Northern Ireland border and Britain’s exit fee.

Now the two sides need to agree a time-limited “implementation period” after Britain officially quits the bloc next March, to smooth transition to full independence.

Mr Davis earlier revealed he would be content if the transition ended on December 31, 2020 – 21 months after Brexit and in line with the EU’s budget calendar – rather than the two years the UK first envisaged.

He said the priority was to get agreement at next week’s summit of European leaders on the terms of transition.

“That is more important to me than a few months either way. So, I’m not bothered too much about the question of whether it is Christmas 2020 or Easter 2021,” he told BBC Two’s Newsnight on Wednesday.

Yesterday Mr Davis, who will meet EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Monday, underlined his optimism about progress.

Taking MPs’ questions in the House of Commons, he said the “immediate goal” was to agree a “strictly timelimited implementation period” by next week’s leaders’ summit”.

Addressing trade, he added: “The March European Council is expected to issue the negotiating guidelines to the Commission to negotiate the future partnership.

“We are seeking to ensure that those guidelines are broad and open to allow the most constructive negotiations to deliver the close relationship we are seeking.”

He denied the UK would be forced to accept a bad outcome because some in the EU feared a good deal for Britain would tempt other nations to leave.

But no deal would “plainly be better than a punishment deal”, he said.

Later, Treasury Minister Mel Stride told the Commons he believed Brussels had agreed to let Britain sign new free trade deals with other countries during the transition period.

However, no deals which were agreed could actually take effect until Britain was fully out of the EU, he said.

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