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24th Feb 2024

Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin

  • Davis: "Putting politics above prosperity is never a smart choice" (Photo: European Commission)

Britain has called for a unique trade deal with the EU after it leaves the bloc, but declined to say how much it would pay for the divorce.

David Davis, the UK's Brexit negotiator, detailed its ideas at a business forum in Berlin on Thursday (16 November).

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  • Davis also made much of Germany's need to keep selling cars to the UK (Photo: Dave Pinter)

He was mocked on social media for a remark which seemed more apt for British eurosceptics, such as himself, than for his audience.

"Putting politics above prosperity is never a smart choice," he said.

With British tabloids full of anti-EU and anti-immigrant stories, he laid himself open to more laughter when he tried to dispel concern "about what kind of country we are or indeed what we stand for."

"If you want to know the mind of a nation, all one must do is read its press," he said.

When the editor of German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Wolfgang Krach, who hosted the Berlin event, later said "your government gives off an impression of chaos and disorder", the audience burst into applause.

"Every government has periods of turbulence," Davis replied.

When asked how much Britain was willing to pay to honour its past EU budget commitments, a key sticking point in Brexit talks, he said that decision would be made "later on".

"Wait for another few weeks before I answer that," he said.

His speech gave details on other aspects of Britain's vision for post-EU relations, however.

UK vision

He said the UK wanted a transition period of "about two years" after it left the EU in March 2019 in which everything would stay the same.

That would mean "keeping … the role of the European Court of Justice" and "staying in all the EU regulators and agencies", he said.

He said that the future EU trade deal should make the UK "a third country partner like no other" in a "deep and comprehensive free trade agreement - the scope of which should be beyond any the European Union has agreed before."

Future UK-EU relations should be "much closer than Canada, much bigger than Norway", he said.

The EU and Canada recently concluded a limited free-trade pact. Norway has full access to the single market in return for applying EU law.

Davis said the future EU trade deal should include "tariff-free access across the board" for "goods, agriculture, and services, including financial services … transportation, energy, and data".

He said it should include mutual recognition of regulatory standards on goods such as cars and pharmaceuticals.

He said it "must have an effective dispute resolution mechanism" that would be neither the UK courts nor the EU court.

He also said there should be mutual recognition of people's professional qualifications.

The UK would stop free movement for EU migrants, but he said it would "continue to welcome people, both from the EU and around the world, who want to work and contribute to our society".

Davis added that the UK and the EU shared basic values and voiced "unwavering commitment to Europe's security".

But he also said the UK and Germany had always "viewed the EU differently".

"For Germany, and others, the creation of the EU is still seen properly as a foundation for peace and stability, democracy and justice, across our continent … For us the European Union - and the European Economic Community before it - was primarily an economic endeavour," he said.

Swedish talks

Brexit talks will continue on the sidelines of an EU summit on social affairs in Sweden on Friday, where British leader Theresa May plans to hold informal meetings with EU Council head Donald Tusk and with her Irish and Swedish counterparts.

May wants EU leaders to start negotiations on the transition deal and on the future trade pact in December.

The UK needs the progress to stop businesses from relocating amid fears that there will be no deals in place by 2019.

But the EU and UK remain tens of billions of euros apart on the divorce bill, which the EU wants to agree, among other issues, before moving on.

Davis said it was "incredibly unlikely" that Brexit negotiations would fail.

When asked if he wanted to take May's job - a development that would increase the levels of "chaos and disorder" in the UK - he said: "No".

He said May was "very good" and that "she'll be there for the duration of the Brexit process and beyond."

"When the Brexit process comes to an end, I'll come to an end too. I won't be there. I have no ambitions beyond that," he said.

Analysis

Avoiding a Brexit chemical reaction

The UK's €56 billion chemicals industry was at first hoping Brexit would lead to less regulations - now it is hoping it can still access the single market.

UK has 10 days to make Brexit progress

British prime minister Theresa May was told to make progress on the financial settlement, and Ireland, before talks can move to the next phase.

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