David Davis: Failing to reach trade deal would hurt EU more than UK

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis has claimed Britain has the upper hand in post-Brexit trade negotiations, as officials in the UK and EU begin drawing battle lines.

European ministers have already clashed with Downing Street after setting out a number of “red line” conditions.

Brussels' Chief negotiator Michel Barnier rejected a Canada-style trade deal, sought by Boris Johnson, saying that while the UK would be the EU's third largest trading partner, its proximity meant the rules "cannot be the same".

But Mr Davis argued that a post-Brexit UK had more negotiating leverage than the trading bloc.

He told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “If it comes down to it and we have no deal at all, well then so be it – it won’t hurt us anything like it’ll hurt them.

“We’ll have more money to deal with and we’ll have other options to go to we’ll have other trade deals to do with the rest of the world.

The Conservative MP added: “The European Union has no upside in this game, we do have upside in this game, so negotiating leverage is all one way now.”

Number 10 yesterday rebuffed demands by Brussels to allow EU fishing fleets continued access to British waters, with Mr Barnier saying if the rights are not included, there “won't be any agreement at all”.

The UK government insisted the country had twice voted to “take back control” of British waters – in the 2016 referendum and last year’s general election – and would not give that up.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “This does not have to be negotiated, nor will it be.

“Any access by non-UK vessels to fish in UK waters will be for us to determine.”

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