Davis: Financial services could be "make or break" in Brexit talks - but minister tells Lords he will never say 'I'm going to fold'

Catherine Neilan
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David Davis has said the treatment of financial services "could be make or break" in the Brexit talks - but insisted he will "never say 'I'm going to fold'."

In an update to the EU select committee, the Brexit secretary dismissed claims that the divorce bill would be make or break, saying instead there were a number of other "fundamental" issues, including our future regulatory relationships and financial services, that could threaten to derail talks.

"There will be a whole series of these kinds of things, but frankly I won't be coming into this committee, and saying yes I am going to fold on this - ever, not on one of these," he said, adding that "of course beneficiaries... [affected businesses] will say we want this done."

​"Similarly they want an implementation period - and we are hoping to deliver that, but it won't be free, it won't come for nothing," he added.

But he conceded that the withdrawal agreement "on balance, will probably favour the [European] Union in terms of things like money and so on. Whereas the future relationship will favour both sides and will important to both of us."

In the same hearing, Davis confirmed the next round of Brexit talks will take place in the second half of next week - but suggested talk of "acceleration" does not mean more negotiations.

The Brexit secretary told a Lords committee that he had "just got off the phone" and had agreed negotiations would pick up again in the back end of next week, blaming Brussels for not being able to meet earlier. He also said the EU27 "don't like the word 'continuous'" when it comes to talks.

"We are not holding up the process. I don't want to score any points, it's just a fact," he added.

Davis said he was not concerned that the European Council did not agree sufficient progress had been made earlier this month, saying the next few weeks would be used to "prepare their position" before the second phase of talks, on trade and transition, can begin.

"This time will be used by the EU to get everything in order so that if sufficient progress is agreed in December, we can get cracking," he said.

Davis added that he was hopeful an agreement could be reached by next October, saying this would give both sides time for their parliaments to ratify the deal. It would be "nice to complete talks early", to give businesses clarity, he added.

"If we hit October nobody would be more pleased than me," Davis added.

The Brexit secretary this morning gave Cabinet an update on DexEU's accelerated preparations for life after leaving the EU.

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