David Davis last night urged Germany not to put “politics above prosperity” in a bold pitch to steer the direction of Brexit talks.
The Brexit secretary told an audience in Berlin that the UK would be "a third country like no other", rejecting the European Union’s reported plans to impose a basic trade deal.
Davis said the UK would be "much closer than Canada, much bigger than Norway, and uniquely integrated on everything from energy networks to services".
The future relationship would be underpinned by a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement which would include goods, agriculture and services, critically "including financial services", he said.
Davis’ speech came just hours after a scoping document was leaked to website Politico, showing the EU’s plans to propose a Canada-style framework for future trade, which would exclude financial services and potentially risk long-term damage to the sector.
The Prime Minister has long insisted that the UK must have a bespoke deal and earlier in the day Theresa May’s spokesman said the PM was committed to a “unique” agreement.
That deal must include a commitment to ending freedom of movement, Davis said, though he insisted that "the UK will continue to welcome people, both from the EU and around the world." He also called for mutual recognition of qualifications and endorsed calls for a dispute resolution mechanism for financial services. And he repeated the government’s view that a transition period should last around two years, during which the current status quo would be maintained.
Earlier in the day, Bank of England governor Mark Carney said it was “in everyone’s interest” to have a transitional deal agreed. During an interview with ITV Carney urged policymakers on both sides of the Channel to pursue “as comprehensive and open a trading and investment partnership between the UK and the EU27 at the end of that transition.”
Last night’s speech was seen within government as essential for pushing forward talks ahead of December’s European Council summit, where it is hoped the EU will finally allow negotiators to discuss trade and transition.
It is hoped Davis will have done enough to win over the Germans, who are seen as key power brokers in the entire process. One senior cabinet source told City A.M: "We're not negotiating with Brussels, we're negotiating with Berlin."
But if Europe was expecting money on the table after Barnier’s threatened two-week deadline, they would have been disappointed. On figures, Davis remained silent but stressed the UK was a country that “honours its international commitments and obligations".
Adding this was "more than just rhetoric", he told the audience that the UK was spending £22bn a year above the EU average on defence and international development. "It’s money that demonstrates how seriously we take our role on the world stage," he added.