British Brexit minister David Davis is in Brussels to open divorce talks with the EU with a message that there should be “no doubt — we are leaving the European Union”.
Days after a suggestion from French President Emmanuel Macron that Britain could still choose to remain, Davis said there would be no backtracking from Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to deliver on Brexit, for which Britons voted in a referendum almost a year ago.
“As I head to Brussels to open official talks to leave the EU, there should be no doubt — we are leaving the European Union, and delivering on that historic referendum result,” Davis said in a statement.
“Leaving gives us the opportunity to forge a bright new future for the UK — one where we are free to control our borders, pass our own laws and do what independent sovereign countries do.”
May, under pressure after losing her ruling Conservatives’ majority in a botched snap election and over her response to a devastating fire that killed at least 58 in a London apartment block, says she wants a clean break with the EU – a strategy some in her party have challenged as risking economic growth.
Davis, a prominent ‘Leave’ campaigner in the referendum, said he was approaching the talks in a “constructive way”, knowing they will be “difficult at points”.
“We are not turning our backs on Europe,” he said in the statement. “It’s vital that the deal we strike allows both the UK and the EU to thrive, as part of the new deep and special partnership we want with our closest allies and friends.”
Britain needs a seamless Brexit transition to support jobs and investment by ensuring a new customs arrangement with the European Union that avoids bureaucratic delays to trade, finance minister Philip Hammond said on Sunday.
Hammond said Brexit means that Britain will leave the EU’s single market and the bloc’s customs union, but that he wanted an exit that would support jobs and investment.
“When I talk about a Brexit that supports British jobs, British investment and British business I mean a Brexit that avoids those cliff edges,” Hammond said in an interview with BBC television.
He said such a Brexit would mean “that we segue seamlessly from the customs union that we are in at the moment to a new arrangement in the future that will continue to allow British goods to flow not just without tariffs, because actually tariffs are a relatively small part of the problem, it is without delays and bureaucracy.”
British government minister Andrea Leadsom said on Sunday it was “perfectly possible” to negotiate Britain’s exit from the European Union in the next two years, as required by the rules of the trading bloc.
“When you have politicians right across the EU and in the United Kingdom who share the desire for a successful outcome with low tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, free trade between ourselves, cooperation on security and so on, it should be perfectly possible to meet the time frame.
“So I am extremely optimistic,” the Leader of the House of Commons said on the BBC’s Sunday Politics.
Brexit talks begin. pic.twitter.com/hYsWVjix9c— Brian Groom (@GroomB) June 18, 2017