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Brexit row: David Davis to set out European Union transition plans

27 January 2018

The speech by Davis comes as Number 10 sought to contain a row over Hammond's comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Wednesday evening and I am listening, with some disbelief, to a confrontation in a Westminster committee room between two strong supporters of Brexit, the minister David Davis, and celebrity backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg, famous for his ultra-retro style and views.

At a House of Commons committee hearing today, Eurosceptic MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said that if Britain remained subject to European Union rules for a two-year period beyond the exit date of 30 March 2019, without having any participation in the rule-making process, then it would be reduced to a "vassal state".

Some of May's Brexit-supporting lawmakers, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, said Britain's government must start promoting the opportunities from leaving the European Union and its negotiators should stop being "cowed by the EU".

"We are leaving, we don't need to behave as if we are a permanent member." .

First, on forging new security and defence partnerships without waiting for the transition to end; second, to update the directives depending on progress - a line that diplomats said meant that Britain would not necessarily be shoved off a "cliff edge" in 2021 if a new trade agreement was not ready; and third, that they might agree to let Britain sign new trade deals with others, despite being bound by European Union trade rules in the transition.

But he is prepared for a clash with Brussels over the prospect of carrying out independent trade talks and potentially signing deals which would come into force once the transition period is over.

Davis will stress that Britain plans to begin negotiating new trade deals during the transition period.

Davis will emphasize in his speech that the United Kingdom will be able to make new trade deals during transition in an attempt to ease concerns of Tory Brexit backers.

"There will be arguments about the tactics but they will change, the options available to us will change throughout the course of the negotiations".

A leading Brexiteer has warned Theresa May that if she delivers "Brexit in name only" with a status quo transition period the Conservatives will lose the next election.

"The smaller the changes that happen to our access to markets, the frictions at the borders the better", Hammond added. Hunt insisted critics who think May is too "timid" as prime minister are "absolutely wrong".

"We will not be subject to the duty of honest co-operation, which is what stops us arriving at trade deals now, negotiating and signing trade deals now, so that freedom will exist". "That is something we can be very positive about".

Calling the transition "a bridge" to Brexit, Davis said he is "confident" an agreement could be reached by the March European Council summit.

"However, this speech will do nothing to hide the deep divisions at the heart of this Tory Government".

Negotiations between the EU27 are getting under way on how to manage the seven-year budget, with member states having to figure out how to make up a €12.5 billion shortfall due to the UK's departure.

May has repeatedly said Britain will leave the bloc's single market and customs union, but Brexit campaigners fear that after negotiating a transition deal that changes little, she may opt for a future relationship along those lines.

Brexit row: David Davis to set out European Union transition plans