Minister set to outline govt's Brexit strategy

Brexit minister David Davis presents plans to parliament while politicians debate a petition calling for a second referendum elsewhere in Westminster.
Pro-Europe demonstrators during a march in London last Saturday against the Brexit vote result in June.
Pro-Europe demonstrators during a march in London last Saturday against the Brexit vote result in June.PHOTO: REUTERS

David Davis hails EU exit amid growing international unease over how it will pan out

LONDON • Britain's minister in charge of exiting the European Union maintains that pulling out of the bloc is an "historic and exciting" opportunity. 

Brexit Minister David Davis, ahead of his first address to Parliament yesterday in that role, said he would set out more details on the government's plan, amid growing international unease over how it will pan out. Since Britain's June 23 vote to leave the bloc, the government has given little away about its plans for Brexit, focusing instead on preparing for formal negotiations which it has said will not begin before the end of the year.

"This is a historic and positive moment for our nation. Brexit isn't about making the best of a bad job. It is about seizing the huge and exciting opportunities that will flow from a new place for Britain in the world," Mr Davis said.

EXCITING OPPORTUNITIES

This is a historic and positive moment for our nation. Brexit isn't about making the best of a bad job. It is about seizing the huge and exciting opportunities that will flow from a new place for Britain in the world... There will be new freedoms, new opportunities, new horizons for this great country.

BREXIT MINISTER DAVID DAVIS

"There will be new freedoms, new opportunities, new horizons for this great country."

In a hint at his position in those future negotiations, during a trip to Northern Ireland last Thursday, Mr Davis said Britain would ideally have tariff-free access to the EU's single market.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Theresa May said the statement would be "about the work that the government has been doing over the summer and obviously how we are going to take that forward in shaping the sort of relationship we want with the EU".

Many countries - both in the EU and farther afield - are keen for Britain to begin the talks and end the uncertainty that has hurt investment.

On the eve of the Group of 20 summit in China over the weekend, Japan published a report warning that Britain's exit from the EU could prompt Japanese financial institutions to relocate from London, and listing concerns from Japanese companies.

Last week, Mrs May gathered her Cabinet team for the first time since she asked them to use the summer break to come up with options for Britain's future ties with the bloc after a divorce. Following that meeting, the government said it would seek a unique rather than "off-the-shelf" relationship with the EU, involving controls on immigration and a good deal for those who trade in goods and services.

In a BBC interview recorded before she left for the G-20 summit, the Prime Minister confirmed that the formal process for exiting the EU will not be triggered this year, but she also pledged it would not be "kicked into the long grass".

Britain, she said, would be a "bold, outward-looking country" forging its way in the world.

And Mrs May built on that yeserday, saying she wanted Britain to become a global leader in free trade as it exits the EU. She told reporters after the G-20 summit there would be no retreat towards protectionism and that there had been positive reactions about new trade deals.

"The leaders from India, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore said that they would welcome talks on removing the barriers to trade between our countries," she said.

"The Australian trade minister will visit the UK this week to take part in exploratory discussions on the shape of a UK-Australia trade deal," she added.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2016, with the headline 'Minister set to outline govt's Brexit strategy'. Print Edition | Subscribe