David Davis hits back at 'discourteous' EU over Brexit punishment threat

Posted On: 
8th February 2018

David Davis has accused the European Union of using "discourteous language" over a leaked document threatening the UK with severe punishments if it breaks any part of the post-Brexit transition deal.

David Davis has hit back at the EU.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Brexit Secretary said it was "unwise" for Brussels to issue the warning on the eve of the latest round of negotiations.

Sanctions suggested in the leaked paper included the grounding of UK flights, suspending single market access and imposing trade tariffs on the UK.

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Under the proposals, the EU would also have the power to fast-track the measures without any reference to the European Court of Justice.

The five-page text called for "a mechanism allowing the union to suspend certain benefits deriving for the UK from participation in the internal market where it considers that referring the matter to Court of Justice of the EU would not bring in appropriate time the necessary remedies".

But speaking after the second meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee on Brexit, Mr Davis said: "I have to say I thought that document was hardly a legal document, it was a political document.

"What we’re about is building an implementation period, which is to build a bridge to a future where we work well together. And I do not think it was in good faith to publish a document with frankly discourteous language, and actually implying that they could arbitrarily terminate in effect the implementation period.

"That's not what the aim of this exercise is, it's not in good faith, and we think it's unwise to publish that."

Mr Davis also insisted that the mood in the sub-committee - which is made up of both Brexiteer and former Remainer ministers - was "constructive", but that no breakthrough had yet been made.

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are advocating a clean break from the EU's institutions, while the likes of Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd want Britain to remain as closely aligned as possible to the bloc to protect the economy.

"There’s still progress to be made, but there’s a great deal of progress been made," said Mr Davis.

The next meeting of the sub-committee is due to take place at an away day at Chequers, the Prime Minister's official residence, on a date yet to be confirmed.