Brexit: Philip Hammond becomes second Cabinet minister to raise possibility of paying EU to access single market

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Thursday 01 December 2016 18:51
The Chancellor said the Government should not rule out the concept, just hours after David Davis raised the idea
The Chancellor said the Government should not rule out the concept, just hours after David Davis raised the idea

Chancellor Philip Hammond has become the second Cabinet minister in a day to say the Government should keep open the option of paying the EU to gain access to the single market.

Mr Hammond said the Government should not rule out the concept, just hours after David Davis had raised the idea of paying Brussels to access the trading bloc in the House of Commons.

It comes as the Government is under increasing pressure at home and on the continent to give more certainty over what it wants in any Brexit deal.

On a visit to Scotland Mr Hammond said: “We have to look at any deal in the round … and I think David Davis is absolutely right not to rule out the possibility that we might want to contribute in some way to some form of mechanism.”

Taking questions in the Commons, Mr Davis was asked if the Government would consider making any contribution, in any shape or form, for access to the single market.

Mr Davis said: “The simple answer we have given to this before is, and it's very important because there is a distinction between picking off an individual policy and setting out a major criteria, and the major criteria here is that we get the best possible access for goods and services to the European market.

“If that is included in what you are talking about then of course we would consider it.”

So far Ms May and other ministers have doggedly stuck to the line of only saying the Government will aim to secure the “best possible deal”.

Responding in the Commons Chamber, Labour former shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander claimed the Government had made no progress in forming its plans in the last five months.

Hilary Benn, the Labour chairman of the Commons Brexit Committee, urged the Government to publish more detail on its negotiating plans as he said MPs were “fed up”.

He said: “In a week in which it has been reported that the Foreign Secretary has told EU ambassadors that he doesn’t agree with the Government's policy on freedom of movement and that a Dutch member of parliament attended a briefing in Downing Street on the Government's plans for Brexit, does the Secretary of State understand why the House is getting a little fed up with being told nothing?

“If he does, can he tell us when the Government will come forward with its plans for Brexit including on what will happen as regards any future contributions to the European Union after we have left?”

Mr Davis said he is due to appear before the Brexit committee in December and that members of the committee had visited the Department for Exiting the EU.

Downing Street said the comments from the Chancellor were consistent with the Government’s stated position that it was for the UK to decide how its taxpayers’ money was spent.

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