David Davis reveals Brexit plans will not be ready to be published until February at the earliest

Hayley Kirton
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Davis is a fan of an "smooth and orderly exit", however (Source: Getty)

The Brexit secretary has today revealed his department's plans for the impending Brexit negotiations will not be published until February at the earliest.

Speaking in front of the Exiting the European Union Committee, David Davis said he intended to publish the plans as soon as possible but added it certainly would not be before the end of January.

"It won't be next month," he said, when pushed for a publication date by committee chair Hilary Benn. "The policy work is still underway. There are quite a few decisions still to be made....There's a fair number of things still to do so it will be as soon as we're ready."

Last week, MPs overwhelmingly supported a motion calling on government to make its Brexit plans public.

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However, they will likely be disappointed to discover they will not see the plans for some time, giving them little opportunity to get their heads around them before government's March deadline for triggering Article 50.

The Brexit secretary also suggested today that allowing for a lengthy transition period, which could be used to extend valuable rights for long enough for businesses to find alternatives, would go against the grain of what the majority of people wanted from Brexit, which was for the deal to be done "properly and soon".

He added he would only put a transition period in place to support the implementation of already established plans "if it's necessary, and only if it's necessary".

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He also indicated he would not be keen to use a transition period as means to extend the negotiating period, likening it to a bridge and saying: "If you build a bridge, you need to have both sides established before you build the bridge, so we need to know where we're going."

Davis noted that he thought there was enough time to finish negotiations before the two-year ticking clock on Article 50 ran out, adding: "The Article 50 process was written to allow departure from the European Union. That's its purpose. And plainly the architects of it, the authors of it, thought there was time enough to do the job and so do I".

However, he added he was keen to orchestrate a "smooth and orderly exit" from the EU, and said he would not rule out the possibility of payment for access to the Single Market, although he refused to "rule it in" either.

Read more: EU Brexit negotiator says transitional deal must not be "eternal"

Davis' stance today was noticeably different to that of chancellor Philip Hammond's when he appeared in front of the Treasury Select Committee earlier in the week.

Hammond said providing a transition period would "run less risk of disruption and including less risk to financial stability, which must be a very real concern".

Davis also noted his department recognised "non-tariff barriers are probably a bigger issue than tariff barriers in the long run and partly because we do have a surplus in services, and services is where they hit most".

Read more: Holdout Remainers’ delay and pray strategy is wishing the UK economic harm

While Davis was sharing his opinion on tariffs, business secretary Greg Clark was in front of the Business Committee discussing, among other things, the letter he had sent to car manufacturer Nissan around the time it announced it would build two new car models in Sunderland.

Clark has previously said government reassured Nissan it would host "constructive" discussions with regards to tariffs when they arrived at the Brexit negotiating table.

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