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UK will continue to be subject to EU laws and free movement during transition, David Davis confirms

John Ashmore

3 min read

The UK will have to abide by new EU laws and allow continued free movement of people during the two-year transition period, David Davis confirmed today. 


The Brexit Secretary said there would be a “strictly time-limited” role for the European Court of Justice during the two-year period – a condition that will anger many eurosceptic Conservative backbenchers.

Speaking in Middlesbrough this afternoon, Mr Davis said a transition deal that mirrors current arrangements was essential to making a success of Brexit.

“It’s only by being outside the EU but continuing with the existing structure of rules and regulations that we can meet the requirements for a smooth, orderly and successful exit,” he said.

And he made clear that would mean continued membership of the customs union and no restrictions on immigration from EU countries to the UK.

“For such a period to work both sides must continue to follow the same stable set of laws and rules without compromising the integrity of the single market and the customs union, to which we will maintain access on current terms.”

“In keeping with the existing structure of existing rule that will allow a strictly time-limited role for the European Court of Justice during that period.

“During this implementation period people will of course be able to travel between the UK and the EU to live and work.“

His position is at odds with the views of some Tory backbenchers who want Britain to forge its own path as soon as possible.

Earlier arch-eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg – who chairs the European Reform Group of MPs – claimed that “the UK’s approach to the EU talks has failed and must stop doing so”.

‘A BRIDGE’                                     

Mr Davis also stressed that the UK must be able to negotiate its own trade deals during the two-year period after March 2019.

He described that period as “a bridge” between the UK formally leaving the bloc and the implementation of new systems in areas such as customs and immigration.

And he warned those pushing for a so-called ‘clean Brexit’ in 2019 that that would mean businesses delaying crucial investment decisions.

“Without a bridge to the future that’s exactly what they’d have to do,” he said.

“We would see delayed investment, slowing job creation and a stifling of hard-won economic growth upon which our continent depends.“

‘NO DIFFERENCE’

He also played down suggestions of a rift between Downing St and Philip Hammond over the type of Brexit the Government is pursuing.

The Chancellor was firmly rebuked by Number 10 yesterday after suggesting there would be only “modest changes” when the UK exits the bloc.

Mr Davis said Mr Hammond had been referring to the initial transition period when there would be “very, very little initial difference between the standards and regulations that apply in our country and on the continent of Europe”.

He added: “There is no difference between the Chancellor and myself and, indeed, the Prime Minister in terms of the fact we both want a Brexit that serves the British economy and serves the British people.

“There will be arguments about the tactics, but they will change. The options available to us will change throughout the course of the negotiations as we see what our European interlocutors want.

He insisted differences of opinion would not prevent minister coming to a unified position.

“I’m in politics and people debate and they have different views and there’s a diversity of views on this subject in all parties.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t have or can’t have a coherent and forceful view in the interests of the UK which we will make work when we talk to opposite numbers on the other side of the Channel and in Ireland."

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