- David Davis has warned the EU not to put “politics before prosperity” in Brexit talks.
- The Brexit secretary said the UK and EU can get a deal bigger than “any the EU has agreed before.”
- Davis says the UK is a “third country partner like no other.”
LONDON — David Davis warned members of the European Union not to put “politics before prosperity” in Brexit negotiations as Britain faces the prospect of trade talks not beginning until 2018.
Speaking at an economic conference in Berlin on Thursday, the Brexit secretary claimed Britain and the EU can agree a free trade deal bigger than “any the EU has agreed before.”
Davis said the UK is “much closer than Canada, much bigger than Norway” to the EU and so deserves an unprecedented trading relationship covering “goods, agriculture and services, including financial services.”
He accepted that Brexit negotiations remain difficult but did not provide any clarity on reports that Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing to make a concrete offer of around £40 billion on the so-called divorce bill.
Davis along with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is unhappy with the idea of May doubling the £20 billion she offered earlier this year, according to reports on Friday.
Davis appealed to European countries not to punish Britain for leaving the EU, and that they should avoid harm to their own economies by putting politics first.
After listing the economic ties between the UK and Germany he said: “In the face of those facts I know that no one would allow short-term interests to risk those hard-earned gains. Because putting politics above prosperity is never a smart choice.”
“This old man is destroying Britain’s future”
On Thursday leaked EU documents were published by Politico, suggesting that the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier was only prepared to offer Britain a limited free trade deal like the one the EU has with Canada.
The briefing shows that because of the government’s rejection of continuing single market and customs union membership, a limited free trade deal is the only option.
This agreement would have a negative impact on the UK’s financial sector, as the Canada deal did not cover financial services.
However, Davis said: “We are seeking a new framework that allows for a close economic partnership … that recognises both our unique starting point and our trusted, historic relationship.
“We will be a third country partner like no other. Much closer than Canada, much bigger than Norway, and uniquely integrated on everything from energy networks to services.
“The key pillar of this will be a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement — the scope of which should beyond any the EU has agreed before.”
At the event, hosted by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Davis insisted that “the future will be brighter” for both the UK and the EU if a comprehensive deal is agreed, and that Britain would maintain high standards on goods, services, workers’ rights and environmental protections.
He said: “We cannot be cheaper than China. And we will never have more resources than Brazil. And that is why the U.K. is committed not only to protecting high standards but strengthening them … we will not engage in a race to the bottom.”
Süddeutsche Zeitung’s editor Wolfgang Krach received applause from the audience of business leaders when he asked why Brexit was happening if Britain and the EU shared many values as Davis claimed.
Krach told the Brexit secretary: “Your government gives off an impression of chaos and disorder.”
Davis replied: “Every government has periods of turbulence.”
One audience member, Jürgen Müller, CEO of SIG, a leading German outsourcing company told the Daily Telegraph: “This old man is destroying Britain’s future.”
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