James Forsyth James Forsyth

David Davis, parliamentary poacher turned executive gamekeeper

David Davis batted away demands for parliament to be given a vote on the timing of Article 50 or the government’s negotiating stance. Whenever his opponents—who included Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg—brought up how Davis himself had previously said there should be a white paper on the government’s negotiating stance, Davis side-stepped the issue. He also claimed that his views on how the executive should be accountable to parliament hadn’t changed, but that there was a difference between scrutiny and micro-managing.

What the government wanted out of the Brexit talks, said Davis, was control of the UK’s borders and laws, co-operation on justice and security matters that is at least as good as it is now and barrier-free access to the European market. He predicted that if EU leaders pursued a ‘punishment’ strategy, and here he name-checked Angela Merkel, they would receive ‘push-back’ from their own constituents and that the ‘primary’ victims of it would be European farmers and exporters. (Though, at the moment, what polling there is suggest European publics favour a fairly hard line approach)

Davis would not be drawn on the question of transition arrangements, suggesting that the deal could be done in 2 years. He argued that the UK and the EU currently have the same regulatory regime and definition of terms which means that one of the biggest hold-ups in trade agreements has already been dealt with.

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