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Hammond to urge EU ‘to put behind us any narrative of punishment’ over Brexit

Chancellor and Brexit Secretary targeting German businesses to build up support for post-Brexit trade deal.

Brussels must move past suggestions Britain will be punished for Brexit and set out what future relationship it wants, Philip Hammond will warn.

In a speech in Berlin, the Chancellor will insist it “takes two to tango” as he says there has been relative silence from the European Union about how it wants to trade after the UK leaves.

Mr Hammond and Brexit Secretary David Davis are on a charm offensive targeted at German business leaders in an attempt to build support for a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU which would be the “most ambitious in the world”.

The two senior ministers are visiting the EU’s major economy after Brussels’ chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier urged European companies with commercial links to the UK to start preparing for increased “friction” in trade.

Their visit comes amid reports of German opposition to Theresa May’s plans for the post-Brexit relationship between the 27 EU members and the UK.

The Government wants a bespoke trade deal covering both goods and services after Brexit, with the UK leaving the single market and customs union.

At the Die Welt economic summit dinner, Mr Hammond will say: “They say, ‘It takes two to tango’: Both sides need to be clear about what they want from a future relationship.

“I know the repeated complaint from Brussels has been that the UK ‘hasn’t made up its mind what type of relationship it wants’, but in London many feel that we have little, if any, signal of what future relationship the EU27 would like to have with a post-Brexit Britain.

“Since the referendum in the UK, there has been a marked asymmetry between the enthusiasm expressed by certain third countries to pursue future trade deals with the UK and the relative silence, in public at least, from Europe on what the EU wants our future relationship to look like.

EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (Liam McBurney/PA)

“I am saying this to you tonight because I fear that many EU opinion-formers see this as a question only for British politicians, for British voters to resolve, before they engage with the EU27.

“By signalling a willingness to work together in a spirit of pragmatic co-operation on a future, mutually beneficial, partnership based on high levels of access for goods and services, continued close co-operation in security and defence, in education, science, technology and culture, putting behind us any narrative of ‘punishment’ for leaving and focusing on the mutually beneficial relationships we have now and can continue in the future, the EU will send a message to the British people which will resonate as they consider the options for their future.”

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