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UK out of EU customs union and single market by March 2019, David Davis says

The Brexit Secretary said the timescale for any transition period was likely to end in 2022.

The UK will be out of the EU customs union and single market by March 2019, David Davis said.

The Brexit Secretary said he expected the UK to have left the arrangements within the two-year timetable set out under the Article 50 process.

His comments came as Chancellor Philip Hammond repeated his call for a transitional deal to avoid a “disruptive and dangerous cliff edge” in trading links with the European Union after Brexit.

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The Brexit Secretary said the timescale for any transition period was likely to end in 2022 (Jonathan Brady/PA)

But Downing Street sought to shut down public discussion by ministers about the length of any transition or implementation phase, insisting that this will be part of the Brexit negotiations.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said: “The position the Prime Minister has set out many times hasn’t changed. It’s not in anyone’s interest for there to be a cliff-edge. We want to give certainty to businesses.That’s the position of David Davis and Philip Hammond also.

“What the Prime Minister has been clear about is that clearly leaving the EU means we will be leaving the Customs Union. What that looks like and the phases of implementation and so on will all be subject to negotiation.”

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Mr Davis said he will not "slam the door on immigration" (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Addressing company executives at an event hosted by The Times, the Brexit Secretary said he believed exit talks would be done by the two-year deadline.

Asked if the UK would be straight out of the customs union, he replied: “I would have thought so.”

The Brexit Secretary said any transition period was likely to end in 2022 as he described Mr Hammond’s previous comments on the potential timescale as “not quite consistent with one another”.

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Mr Davis said he was "entirely aligned" with the Chancellor on jobs and prosperity (Virginia Mayo/AP)

He added: “What he’s actually said, the most important thing is it’s got to be done before the election so that’s a maximum of three years.”

Mr Davis said he was “entirely aligned” with the Chancellor on putting jobs and prosperity first.

“I firmly believe that our approach puts jobs and prosperity first. So much so I didn’t even think it was necessary to say it at the beginning,” he told The Times CEO Summit.

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Mr Hammond, speaking in Berlin to the CDU Economic Council, insisted there had to be a “smooth and orderly path” to the new arrangements under any Brexit deal.

Although he did not put a timescale on the transitional process, Mr Hammond said: “Early agreement on these transitional arrangements so that trade between our countries can carry on flowing smoothly will reduce uncertainty, unlock investment decisions, instil business confidence and protect jobs and prosperity, in Britain, in Germany and across this continent.”

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