Britain’s prime minister has said Brexit Minister David Davis’ comments on the European Union single market are just “his opinion” and not government policy.
The rift between Theresa May and Davis highlights the fact that even the highest echelons of government are still not clear on what exactly Brexit means.
Davis told the House of Commons on Monday it would be “very improbable” that the UK would retain access to free trade with the 27-member bloc after Brexit if the UK wanted to regain control over its borders.
As part of a speech meant to set out the government’s official Brexit policy, Davis told MPs: “This Government is looking at every option but the simple truth is that if a requirement of membership is giving up control of our borders, I think that makes it very improbable.”
But the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson distanced the government from his comments. The Independent reports that Theresa May’s spokesperson told journalists this was just “his opinion” and said:
“Saying something is improbable or probable I don’t think is necessarily policy…
“He said it was improbable; he’s setting out his view that it’s improbable. The Prime Minister wants to have the work underway — she recognises that people have their differing views and that’s why we need to do the work that there is. All of this is going to have to be negotiated with our European partners and the Prime Minister’s view is that we should go after the best deal we can.”
May’s distancing herself from Davis’ comments show there is still confusion as to what a Brexit actually looks like.
Davis is one of three senior ministers charged with overseeing Britain’s Brexit negotiations, alongside Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox. There have been widespread reports of tension among the three over who has exact responsibility for which aspect of the negotiations.
On Wednesday Liam Fox’s department announced that the UK and Australia have started a trade working group to fast-track negotiations between the two countries once the UK leaves the European Union.
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