We’ll be out of EU single market by March 2019: Davis

Brexit Secretary David Davis
Brexit Secretary David Davis

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.

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.”

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”.

He also said there would be “practically no burden” on businesses under the government’s plan to extend rights to EU citizens already living in the UK.

He added: “We will bring immigration down, but in a way and at a pace that does not cause labour shortages, or worse, undermine the nation’s need for new talent.”

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.