Brexit secretary David Davis: I don't see why we can't tie up a new trade deal at the same time as the Brexit talks

 
Hayley Kirton
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While officials in Europe have said they are sad about Brexit, Davis said he is "excited" (Source: Getty)

The Brexit secretary today made it clear he believes a trade deal with the EU can be hammered out at the same time as the Brexit negotiations.

Although the UK wishes to wrap up a new trade deal with the bloc at the same time as orchestrating its exit, others in the EU member states seem less keen.

Doubts have surfaced over how willing German Chancellor Angela Merkel would be to start talking trade at the same time as the exit negotiations. Outgoing French President Francois Hollande has come out with a similar stance this morning.

Read more: This is the (leaked) response from the EU to the trigger of Article 50

Speaking with the BBC Today programme this morning, David Davis waved away such claims, saying: "The Article 50 clause which governs the departure actually says the negotiation will cover the departure of the European Union and take into account the future ongoing relationship and so you've got to have both together because one must take into account the other."

However, Davis added the first thing the UK would be looking at is the status of EU citizens in the UK, and vice versa. He added negotiating the status of the border with Ireland would be high on the to-do list.

The Brexit secretary also dismissed claims the whole deal could not be done within two years, saying the timeframe was "absolutely not a joke".

Read more: Prime Minister rings Tusk, Merkel and Juncker on eve of Article 50 trigger

He added: "People try to compare it to other negotiations...it's the only free trade deal in the history of the world in which the country involved already is in a free trade arrangement with the other countries where all the product standards are the same."

Davis also denied that Prime Minister Theresa May's comments that the UK could withdraw its cooperation in European anti-crime efforts should the country not get the deal it wants were a thinly veiled threat or blackmail.

"This is not a threat," he said. "This is a statement of the fact that it will be harmful for both of us...if we don't get a deal."

Read more: A leaked document shows Brussels opposes a special Brexit deal for the City

Davis' comments come the day after Article 50 was triggered, starting the clock on the UK's two-year departure period from the EU.

While many across Europe expressed their sadness over receiving the Article 50 letter, Davis today said he was "excited".

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