What is still needed to complete a deal with the EU?

Brexit: EU making 'massive miscalculation' if it thinks UK won't walk away without deal, David Davis warns

'The UK Parliament does not want no deal but it's certainly not going to be pushed around by the European Parliament,' former Brexit secretary says

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Monday 06 August 2018 08:10

David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, has claimed the EU will be making a "massive miscalculation" if it thinks the UK is not ready to walk away from the negotiations in Brussels without a deal.

The remarks from Mr Davis followed Liam Fox's assessment that the probability of a no-deal outcome was "60-40", as he claimed the "intransigence" of the European Commission was pushing the UK towards a no deal.

Mr Davis - who spent months negotiating with Michel Barnier before quitting over Theresa May's Chequers plan - insisted that EU member states had more to lose from a failure to reach an agreement than the UK.

"This has great scope for being a massive miscalculation on the part of the EU that could end up with no deal by accident," he told the Daily Telegraph. "It's certainly not the intention of the EU to have a no-deal Brexit but they are misjudging us at the moment. The UK Parliament does not want no deal but it's certainly not going to be pushed around by the European Parliament.

"I've always thought that no deal is better than a bad deal and while there will be border issues and so on... it would give us more freedom. I'm still of the view that we have got two things on our side - we have got our own currency and we are masters of our own destiny in a way that EU member countries are not.

He added: "This is a negotiation and it will go to the edge, but we must not panic about this. They have got lots to lose too, and specific countries and specific sectors have got large amounts to lose. As we get closer to the brink, there will be internal pressure within the EU."

His comments came after the prime minister met French president Emmanuel Macron for face-to-face talks at his summer retreat last week and ministers have been dispatched across the continent to deal directly with their counterparts in what has been seen as an attempt to cut out Mr Barnier and the European Commission's bureaucrats.

Robert Buckland, the solicitor general, indicated that the Government believes the leaders of the 27 EU states will come to play a more significant role as the deadline for a deal approaches in the autumn.

"The Government's policy is to get a deal and that chimes entirely with what I think is in the best interests of our country," he told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour. "The reality is that as we get close to the wire, the views of the member states will become more important."

The UK and EU hope to reach a deal by October, in order to give MPs and MEPs chance to scrutinise it.

But Mr Buckland said that if that date slipped to November, there would still be time - although he hinted the Commons' Christmas break could be cut short.

"The clock is ticking, parliamentary time will be very tight," he said. "I don't think that needs to be emergency legislation, I think it can be done on the floor of both Houses, but we are going to have to perhaps look at a few recesses and actually the time that we use in Parliament in order to make sure that everything is thoroughly debated."

Labour warned that a no-deal scenario would be a "catastrophic failure of government" in response to Dr Fox's assessment.

But shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said Theresa May "reckless red lines" had contributed to the difficulties, along with splits in the Tory ranks and "fantasy Brexiteer promises".

He indicated that Parliament should prevent the UK crashing out without a deal.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments