The Brexit Secretary signalled to MPs he will resist pressure from the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to organise the UK’s departure from the bloc before any talks on Britain’s future relationship with Brussels can begin.
Answering questions in the House of Commons, Mr Davis insisted ministers had “already” told the EU it wants an outline of Britain’s future trading terms with the bloc to be agreed before completing the practical aspects of Article 50 negotiations.
Mr Barnier has previously warned only once Britain’s exit deal is completed – including the EU’s demand for a £50billion divorce bill – will Brussels start talks on an EU-UK trade deal.
Tory MP Peter Lilley highlighted to Mr Davis how the wording of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the mechanism for exiting the EU, made clear the EU “must negotiate and conclude an agreement taking account of the framework of its future relationship between the EU and the UK”.
He said: “It's therefore impossible to start negotiations unless one has an outline agreement on what that framework should be.”
Brexit Secretary David Davis took questions from MPs this morning
It really isn't possible to come to an outcome on either of the negotiations without a clear idea of the trade aspect of negotiations.
Mr Lilley told Mr Davis there are “only two frameworks which are possible” – either the continuation of free trade between Britain and the EU, or reverting to World Trade Organisation rules.
He asked: “Will we press our partners to clarify that right at the beginning of the negotiations?”
The Brexit Secretary replied: “We already have done. In my one meeting with Mr Barnier when he was talking about this sequential approach which seems to me not practical.
“It really isn't possible to come to an outcome on either of the negotiations without a clear idea of the trade aspect of negotiations.
“His description is pretty accurate… and we intend for all of this to be concluded in the two years.”
More to follow…