Cabinet minister David Davis allegedly told a powerful EU parliamentarian that Britain wants to stay in the European Single Market as part of its Brexit deal.
Davis, who was appointed by Theresa May to head the newly-formed Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU), reportedly revealed the UK government’s intention in a meeting with German politician Manfred Weber.
Speaking to journalists after meeting with Davis on Tuesday, Weber said: “Today I’ve been told that the British government as far as the economy is concerned, it wants to stay in the single market.”
This was confirmed by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, who tweeted saying: “How’s that running commentary going? Leader of biggest group in euro parly [parliament] says David Davis told him govt wants to stay in single market.”
Weber leads the European People’s Party, a powerful centre-right coalition within the EU Parliament. Business Insider contacted Davis’ department for comment. We will update the story as soon as we get a response.
Tory MP Davis was in Strasbourg to discuss Britain’s departure from the 28-nation bloc with various EU officials, including Weber and the EU Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt.
May has refused to disclose details of her government’s negotiation strategy on many occasions, saying she will not be providing a “running commentary” ahead of official talks getting underway next year.
However, it appears that Davis has given the EU, fellow MPs, and Britain as a whole an interesting insight into what UK government hopes to secure in Brexit talks. His alleged claim comes just a week after Foreign Secretary and fellow Brexiteer Boris Johnson reportedly said the same thing in conversation with Italian minister Carlo Calenda.
If Davis and Johnson told the truth, this means May’s government is eyeing up a deal based on continued membership of the single market with restrictions on inward migration from the 28-nation bloc. This deal has been described as impossible by senior EU officials, as it would mean the unravelling of the Union’s “four freedoms.”
Speaking to Business Insider this month, this is what Verhofstadt had to say about the “four freedoms:”
“The basic position of all the institutions in Europe is very clear: The four freedoms are bound to each other. The internal market is based on four freedoms — not three, or two. Goods, services, capital, and the free movement of people. You cannot separate them. I think this is a perfectly firm and clear position for everybody.
“It’s easy to say, “Yeah, we want a special passport for people working in our services to go and work in Europe,” for example, but the opposite, like the possibility of Polish people to work on a construction site in London, is not possible. This just doesn’t make any sense.”
Jean-Claude Juncker, issued the same warning to Britain earlier this year. Speaking in September, the EU Commission president said: “There is a clear interlink as we made clear at the very beginning between the access to the internal market and the basic principles of the internal market – namely the free movement of workers and we are sticking to that position.”
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