Brexit Tsar Davis says UK may pay into single market
The country could continue paying into Brussels after it has left the EU to secure access to the single market, Brexit Secretary David Davis has suggested.
Mr Davis told MPs the Government wanted to "get the best possible access for goods and services to the European market" after leaving the bloc.
It is the first time a Government minister has openly signalled money could be handed over to Brussels to secure favourable trading terms with the remaining 27 member states.
Downing Street said Mr David's comments were consistent with the Government's stated position that it was for the UK to decide how its taxpayers' money was spent.
But Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said the statement showed the Government's plans for Brexit were in "chaos", with ministers sending "mixed signals" about future arrangements outside the EU.
Mr Davis' remarks came during Commons Brexit questions. He was asked if ministers would consider making a contribution "in any shape or form" for access to the single market.
Mr Davis told the House: "The simple answer to this is, and it's very important because there is a distinction between picking off an individual policy and setting out a major criteria, and the major criteria here is that we get the best possible access for goods and services to the European market.
"If that is included in what you are talking about, then of course we would consider it."
Mr Farron said the comments underlined the need for ministers to spell out clearly what their plans were for Brexit.
"The Government is in an absolute mess," he added. "We are seeing chaos over their Brexit plans as they keep sending mixed signals on where they stand on fundamental questions like access to the single market, payments to the EU budget and freedom of movement."
But the pro-Brexit Conservative Steve Baker played down the Brexit Secretary's comments, suggesting Mr Davis' words had been "over-interpreted".