Report: Brexit Minister ‘Not Really Interested’ in Transitional Brexit Deal

LONDON (Reuters) -
Britain's Secretary of State for Leave the EU David Davis leaves number 10 Downing Street after a cabinet meeting in London, November 29, 2016. (Reuters/Toby Melville)
Britain’s Secretary of State for Leave the EU David Davis leaves number 10 Downing Street after a Cabinet meeting in London. (Reuters/Toby Melville)

Britain’s Brexit Minister David Davis is “not really interested” in a transitional deal to cushion the country from the effects of leaving the European Union, he told the City of London Corporation in a private meeting, the Financial Times reported on Friday, citing a memo of the meeting.

The FT, citing a memo of the Nov. 15 meeting made by an unidentified City of London Corporation representative, said Davis would consider a transitional deal only in order to “be kind” to the EU.

British business has argued that the government should agree on a transition period after the U.K. leaves the bloc and before new trade terms are finalized, during which current arrangements stay in place.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will invoke Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty that triggers the exit negotiations by the end of March 2017.

Last month she assured business leaders they would not fall off a legal “cliff edge” in 2019, giving her clearest signal yet that she was thinking of a transitional deal.

Also over the past week, Davis has given more positive signals about possible arrangements to support a Brexit soft landing, saying Britain would consider making payments to the EU after it leaves to achieve the best possible access for businesses to the bloc’s markets.

Large banks in Britain want the U.K. government to allow their industry to remain subject to EU laws for up to five years after Brexit, Reuters reported on Friday.

A Union flag flies next to the flag of the European Union in Westminster, London, Britain June 24, 2016.    REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo Brexit
A Union flag flies next to the flag of the European Union in Westminster, London. (Reuters/Toby Melville/File Photo)

Davis told the meeting with the City of London Corporation that Britain’s sudden departure could compromise the EU’s financial stability and said he would be more in favor if the EU asked Britain for a transition. “I will be kind,” he said, according to the Corporation’s account of the meeting, the FT said.

Davis also told it that the EU’s “inflexible approach” on immigration meant it was unlikely the U.K. would achieve access to the single market, the FT said, citing the memo.

But he said a trade deal such as the Canada-EU agreement would be relatively easy to secure and would not pose a significant problem for the U.K. because “most advantages” would be gained, said the newspaper.

The Department for Exiting the EU said the FT account of the meeting did “not properly reflect government policy or [Davis’s] view,” the FT said. The Brexit ministry was not immediately available for comment on the report.