David Davis rules out EEA or EFTA membership for UK after Brexit

LONDON — Brexit Secretary David Davis has ruled out staying in the European Economic Area or the European Free Trade Association after Brexit, calling them “in many ways, the worst of all outcomes.”

During questions to the Department of Exiting the EU in the House of Commons, Davis said the government had given it “some considerable thought, maybe as an interim measure” but that it would not seek to join EFTA.

The Brexit secretary said that it would be a “more complicated, more difficult and less beneficial” option to join the association and that the government wanted to design a separate transition deal.

Davis also said that the UK “will no longer participate in the EEA agreement once it leaves the European Union” and that the government is considering whether it needs to take formal steps to “confirm our withdrawal.”

He said: “We are considering what steps if any we might take to formally confirm our withdrawal from the EEA agreement.”

The Brexit secretary also said that the UK will not stay in the single market or customs union during a transition period, but might look to have similar arrangements with the EU.

Labour MP Pat McFadden asked Davis why the government would not want to stay in those institutions, saying: “What is the purpose of a transitional arrangement that undermines the very stability and continuity it’s supposed to achieve?”

Davis replied: “We’re starting from the aim of maintaining as much continuity as is necessary … we may well seek a customs arrangement for that period and a similar arrangement on single market provisions, but we cannot make that decision ourselves.”

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