Minister for Brexit's claim about single market access is 'not policy' Downing Street says

Downing Street said David Davis was offering 'his opinion'

Jon Stone
Tuesday 06 September 2016 16:14
David Davis heckled

David Davis’s claim that it is “very improbable” Britain will stay in the EU single market is “his opinion” – and not policy, Downing Street has said.

The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on Monday told the House of Commons that if border controls were not allowed within the single market the UK would most likely leave it.

On Tuesday a Number 10 spokesperson however distanced the Prime Minister from the comments.

Asked whether Mr Davis was speaking for the Government, the Downing Street spokesperson said it was the minister’s opinion and that there were “differing views” on the subject.

“Saying something is improbable or probable I don’t think is necessarily policy,” she said.

“He said it was improbable; he’s setting out his view that it’s improbable. The Prime Minister wants to have the work underway – she recognizes that people have their differing views and that’s why we need to do the work that there is.

“All of this is going to have to be negotiated with our European partners and the Prime Minister’s view is that we should go after the best deal we can.”

Theresa May was in China while David Davis made the claims 

The comments suggest Ms May has not completely given up hope of keeping Britain in the single market.

The spokesperson declined to elaborate on the sort of immigration controls Theresa May advocated – though she confirmed the PM had dismissed a points-based system.

“I think what you’ve seen is her talking about a system that wouldn’t work,” she said, adding that Ms May had not set out a system that she believed would work.

Mr Davis, who was appointed to head the new Department for Exiting the European Union by Ms May, on Monday afternoon told the Commons:

“This government is looking at every option but the simple truth is that if a requirement of membership is giving up control of our borders, I think that makes it very improbable.”

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said Mr Davis’s negotiating position was a “pipe dream”.

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