Britain must focus on securing trade deals with EU states, Theresa May has been warned
Lord Price, minister at the Department for International Trade, said Britain has accepted there can be “no cherrypicking” as it leaves the EU.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU officials have repeatedly said Britain will not be able to pick the parts of the EU it wants, such as the single market, without accepting principles such as the free movement of workers, when it negotiates its exit.
Lord Price said Britain must now focus on securing new trade deals with the 27 member states of the bloc within the formal two-year leaving process.
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The aim must be now to agree on all questions through a free trade agreement with the EU 27
In an interview with German newspaper Die Welt, Lord Price said: “During the last weeks, I have met with many of my EU counterparts, among them German State Secretary for Business, Matthias Machnig.
“Most of them were very clear. There will be no cherry-picking. We have understood this message.
“The aim must be now to agree on all questions through a free trade agreement with the EU 27. We hope to find a solution on that within the next two years.”
Tory minister Lord Price said Britain must now focus on securing new trade deals
It comes after Prime Minister Theresa May said she wanted Britain to have a customs agreement with the EU.
In her Brexit speech at Lancaster House last month, Mrs May said: “I do want us to have a customs agreement with the EU. Whether that means we must reach a completely new customs agreement, become an associate member of the Customs Union in some way, or remain a signatory to some elements of it, I hold no preconceived position.“
Sir Ivan Rogers has denied having warned Mrs May that a deal on future trade relations could take 10 years, but said he had reported back the "street wisdom among the senior players" in Brussels and the major EU capitals, who thought the process would not be concluded and ratified until "the early-mid 2020s".
Theresa May said she wanted Britain to have a customs agreement with the EU at Lancaster House
Former EU ambassador Sir Ivan Rogers said post-Brexit Britain will be quick to secure trade deals
He said, once out of the EU, he had no doubt the UK would be able to show "nimbleness and agility" in securing trade deals "at speed" with non-EU countries.
Sir Ivan predicted EU negotiators' five key priorities will be the exit bill; the rights of EU citizens living in the UK; relocation of EU agencies away from the UK; the status of international treaties signed on behalf of the UK; and a transitional arrangement to a new relationship.
Sir Ivan, who left his job as a permanent representative to the EU last month, has warned the remaining member states believe Britain’s exit will “explode a bomb” under EU budgets.
Theresa May's 12 point Brexit plan Mon, January 16, 2017
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Continued cooperation with the EU to tackle terrorism and international crime.
Top officials from the EU institutions and the remaining 27 member states believe that the prospect of crashing out of the EU without a deal will be so "unpalatable" to Britain that it will have to pay up, he told the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee.
Sir Ivan said the EU can be expected to take a "hard line" on demanding an exit bill of £34-£51 billion from Britain during negotiations.
But International Trade Secretary Liam Fox dismissed the suggestion of an exit bill as "absurd”.
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