David Davis, the newly-appointed Brexit Minister, took questions in the House of Commons on the government’s future plans to leave the European Union. Facing wide-ranging criticism from opposition MPs for having no detailed strategy in place, Mr. Davis responded by giving a clear indication that Britain would abandon its single market membership as part of the Brexit settlement, while retaining access to it:
“There are many countries outside the European Union, that do a better job, frankly, of exporting to the single market than we do, even without a trade arrangement. So of course we want to have access to the single market. We don’t need to be a member of it to do it. Indeed, being a member of it has caused some of the problems of sovereignty that this referendum was driven by”.
Mr Davis, in his two hour session in Westminster, also made the following assertions:
- There would be no compromise between controlling immigration to the United Kingdom and protecting free trade by remaining in the single market; for, he said, it is also in the interests of the remaining EU Member States to allow the UK to have access to the single market;
- Employment rights for UK workers would be protected;
- A decision would be made in due course whether the UK would remain part of the European Customs Union; and
- While aiming to preserve the UK-EU relationship on security matters, he refused to say whether the UK would remain part of Europol (the European Union’s law enforcement agency).
Mr Davis’ opening statement to the House of Commons can be read in full here – https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/exiting-the-european-union-ministerial-statement-5-september-2016