David Davis says he is not sure UK will secure Brexit deal
The Brexit Secretary said that “no deal would be better than a punishment deal”.
Brexit Secretary David Davis has said he is not certain the UK will secure an EU withdrawal deal.
Mr Davis said he was “pretty sure” an agreement could be struck, but left the door open to leaving the bloc without one.
The Brexit Secretary said that no deal “would be better than a punishment deal”.
The remarks come after Chancellor Philip Hammond said that no deal would be “very, very bad” for the UK.
Asked if he was sure there would be a deal cut, Mr Davis told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I’m pretty sure, I am not 100% sure, you can never be, it’s a negotiation.
“I’m sure there will be a deal, whether it’s the deal I want, which is a free trade agreement, the customs agreement, and so on, I’m pretty sure, but I’m not certain.”
Mr Davis said part of his portfolio was planning for a bad outcome.
He said: “We cannot have a circumstance where the other side says that they are going to punish you. So, if that happens then there is a walkaway, and we have to plan for that.
“Half my job is the invisible job of actually planning for all outcomes, the good, the bad, the whole range.”
Asked if he agreed with the Chancellor that no deal would be very, very bad, Mr Davis said: “It would be better than a punishment deal.
“I’m being very clear about this. In my job I don’t think out loud, I don’t make guesses. I try to make decisions, you make those based on the data.”
Mr Davis said Britain would need transitional trade arrangements with the EU for a time after Brexit.
He said: “We think that there will be a transitional period, not that long. I think one to two years is more likely. It will vary. This is something incredibly practical.”
Mr Davis said Government plans for dealing with the status of the 3.2 million EU nationals in the UK would not make them “second class” citizens but give them “effectively British citizenship rights.”
“They get the same residence rights, the same employment rights, the same health rights, the same welfare rights, the same pensions rights and so on, almost the equivalent to British citizens. The only thing they don’t get is the right to vote.”
Mr Davis said the cut-off point for when EU nationals would have had to be resident in the UK to be eligible for the scheme has yet to be decided but will fall somewhere between Article 50 being triggered last March, and Britain’s leaving date of March 2019.
The Cabinet minister said he did not expect anyone to be deported unless they had committed a crime, or it was to do with security issues.
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: “David Davis inspires about as much confidence as a drunken trapeze artist.
“But it is the country as a whole that will suffer when he comes crashing to the floor. These negotiations will affect our lives for decades, but he’s only ‘pretty sure’ of getting a deal. It is simply not good enough.”