Britain ‘will quit’ the EU in December 2018

The minister in charge of Brexit says Britain ‘will quit’ the EU in December 2018

David DavisDavid Davis. Jack Taylor / Stringer

Britain should probably formally quit the EU around December 2018, new Brexit Secretary David Davis has  signalled.

The senior Conservative MP outlined his vision for a “brisk but measured approach to Brexit”, with crucial new trade deals being swiftly struck with countries around the globe.

“This means that some of the economic benefits of Brexit will materialise even before the probable formal departure from the EU around December 2018,” he told the ConservativeHome website before his appointment yesterday as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

With other EU leaders keen for Britain to trigger Article 50 to start the two-year process of leaving, Mr Davis outlined a broad timetable for departure. “We need to take a brisk but measured approach to Brexit,” he said. “This would involve concluding consultations and laying out the detailed plans in the next few months.”

He believes that such “certainty” in progress towards Brexit, combined with a high intensity round of free trade negotiations, would stabilise the markets. But the UK should take “a little time” before triggering Article 50 to bolster the chances of obtaining “the ideal outcome” of continued tariff-free access without “budging” on border controls, a position to which some EU leaders have said they will not agree.

The article by Mr Davis was written on Monday before Andrea Leadsom crashed out of the Tory leadership race and when it was not clear whether she or Theresa May would succeed David Cameron. So while it did not necessarily reflect the view of Mr Davis in government, it gave an insight into his thinking.

In it, he emphasised: “Be under no doubt: we can do deals with our trading partners, and we can do them quickly.  I would expect the new Prime Minister on September 9th to immediately trigger a large round of global trade deals with all our most favoured trade partners.

Vote Leave supportersVote Leave supporters wave Union flags, following the result of the EU referendum, outside Downing Street in London, Britain June 24, 2016 Reuters/Neil Hall

“I would expect that the negotiation phase of most of them to be concluded within between 12 and 24 months.”

The MP for Haltemprice and Howden said that all economic estimates were subject to the “vagaries of the world economy”. But he believed that the approach he had outlined “should allow us to present to the British electorate in 2020 the early fruits of a successful global trade-based economic strategy as we build our place in the world”.

However, new Chancellor Philip Hammond suggested just days ago as Foreign Secretary that it could take six years before Britain’s departure from the EU was fully agreed. He told BBC radio: “The important point is not how long it takes to ratify the detailed treaty, it’s how long it takes us to get to an agreement about what the principle terms of that deal are. I would hope that we can do that sooner rather than later.”

With Mrs May stating she would not be rushed into triggering Article 50, Mr Hammond said the Government would “consider carefully how we go about getting the very best deal possible”.

He added that the UK would come out of the single market but what was key was agreeing the best access. “The question is how we negotiate with the European Union, not from the point of view of being members but from the point of view of being close neighbours and trade partners,” he said.

He also emphasised that other EU nations would have to respect, during talks, the “red lines” laid down for Britain by the Brexit vote.

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