Philip Hammond seeks Brexit 'middle way' to secure European Union market access

BRITAIN-POLITICS

In a keynote speech today, Mr Davis will insist that Britain will be able to sign trade deals with other countries during the transition period after leaving the European Union in March 2019.

Britain's Brexit Minister David Davis on Friday sought to reassure Eurosceptics that the United Kingdom will pursue an independent path in trade relations after Brexit, following remarks by the country's Finance Minister that aroused their anger.

Europe will be ready to receive UK Brexit secretary David Davis and his officials for formal negotiations once European Union ministers formally endorse their chief negotiator Michel Barnier's binding instructions at a meeting in Brussels on Monday.

Three top ministers have written an open letter to businesses, promising to finalise a Brexit transition agreement by the end of March.

Davis was expected to give more indication of Britain's position on Friday.

Davis will say that Britain wants to remain in deals such as the EU's free trade deal with Canada after Brexit, Laura Kuenssberg said on Twitter.

Earlier this week he dismissed a suggestion that Britain would be a "vassal state" and urged critics to focus on the opportunities of a future, looser relationship.

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However, he did admit that this issue could be a sticking point in upcoming negotiations on the transition deal and that Britain would probably have to abide by new rules handed down by the European Union during the transition, without having a say on them. However, EU officials note that EU texts agreed a year ago spell out that both sides will be bound by a principle of "sincere cooperation" while bound by EU treaties.

If adjustments to the Brexit transition "timetable turn out to be required, I believe it would only be common sense to make them", Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said Thursday during a speech in Dublin. And there is brewing anxiety among Theresa May's Brexiteer base that what was billed originally as an implementation phase, where we move from one system to another, will be more like two years stuck in aspic.

Asked if that increased the risks of no-deal Brexit, the diplomat said yes, "in particular given the ticking clock".

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, told the BBC he was "puzzled" at the chancellor's intervention and that, while he hadn't seen the Rees-Mogg speech, "from what I've heard I think he is much closer to where the government was at the time of the election and needs to be as we go through".

"And we agree on the need to base this period on the existing structure of rules and regulations", he said. He told the Telegraph newspaper that May will lose the support of the ERG if she tries to enter into a customs union with the EU, which would effectively strip her of her majority.

He conceded that in politics, there were "different views", adding: "There will be arguments about the tactics but they will change, the options available to us will change throughout the course of the negotiations".

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