Brexit plan won’t be ready until at least February: Davis

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) David Davis speaks at a Parliamentary Committee in central London, December 14, 2016.

The government of UK Prime Minister Theresa May needs at least until February 2017 to publish its plan to withdraw the country from the European Union (EU), according to Brexit Minister David Davis.

Making the announcement at the House of Commons on Wednesday, Davis said there were “quite a few decisions to be made” about leaving the EU without putting much pressure on business and public services.

However, the secretary said London was looking forward to complete the departure and reach a new trade deal with the bloc within 18 months of triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Despite the lack of a plan, Davis noted that “everything is negotiable” in the 18 months following the Article 50’s notification in March.

He said the government was not opposed to business groups’ demand about an “implementation phase” to lessen the impacts. However, he said they would only resort to that option if it was really necessary.

“Whatever the transitional arrangement is, we need to know where we’re going before we decide on the transition,” he added. “It seems to me that it will be perfectly possible to know what the end game will be in two years.”

The idea for a transitional Brexit to cushion the impacts was first floated by British Chancellor Philip Hammond, who said Monday that a quick departure would pose “risks to financial stability.”

“Collectively, I think transitional arrangements would be beneficial to us,” he told MPs on the Treasury committee.

Speaking before the Commons committee on exiting the EU, Davis also enumerated four possibilities on the UK’s membership of the customs union, saying the country would either be fully in; fully out; inside the customs union but outside the single market like Turkey; or, a Swiss model of being outside the customs union but with customs arrangements.

The minister refused to go in detail about access to the EU single market after Brexit and when pressed to clarify on a pay-for-access model proposed earlier, he said he wanted to keep his options open.

May has pledged to start the negotiations in March and complete the process in two years.

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