Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

Brexit: EU is misjudging UK over no-deal threat, says former minister

The pound slumped to an 11-month low after a minister said it was likely Britain would leave without a trade deal

Former Brexit secretary David Davis and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Reuters
Former Brexit secretary David Davis and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Reuters

Britain’s former Brexit secretary has said the EU would be making a “massive miscalculation” in thinking the government would not be prepared to walk away from trade negotiations in Brussels as the pound slumped to an 11-month low at the prospect of no deal being agreed.

David Davis, who resigned from the cabinet in July in protest at Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans, was responding to comments made by international trade minister Liam Fox, who said it was more likely than not Britain would leave without a deal in a so-called cliff-edge Brexit.

Dr Fox blamed the “intransigence” of EU officials who were pushing the UK towards no agreement being reached before the Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.

In comments published by the Daily Telegraph on Monday, Mr Davis, who spent months negotiating with Brussels, said the EU could end up with “no deal by accident”.

"It's certainly not the intention of the EU to have a no-deal Brexit but they are misjudging us at the moment,” he told the paper. “The UK Parliament does not want no deal but it's certainly not going to be pushed around by the European Parliament.”


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Mrs May cut short her holiday last week to travel to France for crunch talks with French president Emmanuel Macron as part of a push to convince the other 27 EU leaders of her Brexit proposals.

Downing Street said on Monday that it was confident that a deal would be reached despite Dr Fox’s assertions.

"We continue to believe that a deal is the most likely outcome because reaching a good deal is not only in the interests of the UK, it is in the interests of the EU and its 27 members," the prime minister’s spokesman said.

Sterling was down 0.6 per cent against the dollar on Monday at $1.2924, its lowest point since September 2017.

Mrs May's Brexit approval ratings also fell on the same day to an all-time low, according to one poll.

The ORB International pollster found that just 22 per cent of British voters believed the prime minister would get the right deal in the negotiations, in comparison with 55 per cent in the first half of 2017.

Updated: August 6, 2018 08:07 PM