David Davis says no Brexit deal is "massively less probable", blinks on next week's EU Withdrawal Bill vote

 
Catherine Neilan
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David Davis has told MPs a no deal on Brexit is "massively less probable" after the agreement reached by the Prime Minister last week.

Answering questions in the Commons, the Brexit secretary added that his team was still planning for "all contingencies" and would continue to do so until a trade deal was secure - but indicated that, for now at least, some of the pressure was off.

"I think no deal has become massively less probable after the decisions of last Friday - and that’s a good thing because the best deal is a tariff free, non-tariff barrier-free arrangement," he said.

However when it comes to the domestic pressure, specifically over the EU Withdrawal Bill, Davis appeared to change approach.

Asked by shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer if the government would drop its own amendment over the inclusion of the date and time on the face of the bill. This comes up for debate next week, and Tory rebels including Dominic Grieve and Stephen Hammond have already indicated they will not toe the line.

Yesterday Theresa May had been categorical that she would not budge on the decision - but today Davis kicked the can down the road, saying it was a matter for next week.

This morning Davis was also cleared of contempt of parliament over his handling of the impact assessments. Several MPs had accused him of contempt, claiming they had been misled over the existence of such reports.

Speaker John Bercow said that while ministers could have been “considerably clearer” about the status of the Brexit impact reports, especially when giving evidence to committees, he judged there had been no contempt.

Bercow added that it was a pity that some information was excluded, after the binding motion voted for by parliament, and that it took so much time for the information to be made available.

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