Thursday 21 June 2018

Davis says EU 'acting in bad faith' over plan to punish UK

Britain's Brexit Secretary David Davis leaving 10 Downing Street, London, after a Cabinet meeting. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Britain's Brexit Secretary David Davis leaving 10 Downing Street, London, after a Cabinet meeting. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Steven Swinford

British Brexit Secretary David Davis has accused the EU of being "discourteous" and acting in bad faith after it threatened to punish Britain during a transition period after Brexit.

Mr Davis criticised Brussels after it threatened to ground flights, suspend single market access and impose trade tariffs on the UK during the transition period.

He said that the proposals to sanction Britain were "not in good faith" and the decision by Brussels to publish the proposals were "unwise". A source said that the proposals were "ridiculous" and had provoked "consternation" across the Government.

It came amid mounting frustration at the lack of progress in Brexit negotiations. The European Union cancelled several meetings with British negotiators this week and is not holding any next week.

The source accused Brussels of deliberately stalling negotiations in a bid to reduce negotiating time and increase pressure on Britain. "They're playing games," the source said.

Mr Davis told Sky News: "I do not think it was in good faith to publish a document with frankly discourteous language and actually implying that they could arbitrarily terminate in effect the implementation period.

"That's not what the aim of this exercise is, it's not in good faith and we think it was unwise to publish it."

It came after UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit sub-committee held a second debate about the future relationship with Brussels amid increasing concern that Remainers and Brexiteers are unable to reach an agreement.

Mr Davis insisted that the atmosphere had been "very constructive". He admitted there were "still things incomplete" but said that "a great deal of progress has been made".

Damage

Mr Davis played down official economic forecasts suggesting that Brexit will cause the economy significant damage.

"Every single financial forecast and economic forecast has been proven wrong so far - massively wrong. All on the same side, all underestimated the progress of the economy.

Read More: Brexit deal to avoid hard Border in North is labelled 'a fairytale'

"The second point is that this is a work in progress - this is not an approved policy document. I've actually said we will publish before parliament makes a decision on the final deal. We'll publish the economic estimate, but there will be complete - properly completed - economic estimates.

"You wouldn't drive a car that's half finished, you wouldn't use a forecast that's half completed. Thirdly, that work in progress didn't use, didn't assess what our actual aim is, our policy aim. It assessed other things that might look a bit like it but are not like it, and we intend to publish something at the end of this exercise which shows precisely what we want to achieve, which is progress for Britain."

Irish Independent

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