UK's Davis confident of political agreement over Brexit implementation by March

Mr Davis used a speech in Teesport to try to quell unease in Tory ranks, asserting that the United Kingdom will be able to negotiate and sign trade deals with outside countries during the two-year transition period expected to follow the official date of Brexit in March 2019.

First, on forging new security and defence partnerships without waiting for the transition to end; second, to update the directives depending on progress - a line that diplomats said meant that Britain would not necessarily be shoved off a "cliff edge" in 2021 if a new trade agreement was not ready; and third, that they might agree to let Britain sign new trade deals with others, despite being bound by European Union trade rules in the transition.

Davis will say that Britain wants to remain in deals such as the EU's free trade deal with Canada after Brexit, Laura Kuenssberg said on Twitter.

Rees-Mogg, an increasingly-influential voice within the Tory party, said on Thursday that he "profoundly" disagreed with Hammond, who he said "must have been affected by high mountain air" in Davos.

Since striking an interim accord a month ago under which Britain agreed to settle tens of billions of euros of financial commitments to Brussels and guarantee rights for European Union citizens living there, the other 27 European Union states agreed among themselves a set of conditions for a transition that will largely preserve the status quo until December 2020 but deny Britain any say.

Brexit minister David Davis is expected to outline the UK's plans for transition on Friday (26 January), and could ask for the EU's help with rolling over the over 700 global agreements. "The options available to us will change throughout the course of the negotiations".

"We have got to stick to the middle way, which is negotiating the maximum access we can get to European markets compatible with the red lines we have already set out about repatriating control over our laws, our borders and our money".

While most of the Cabinet appear to be on board - including Brexit-backers such David Davis, Liam Fox and Michael Gove - Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is ramping up a campaign for his vision of the divorce, and euroskeptic lawmakers have a new leader in the popular hardliner Jacob Rees-Mogg.

While the majority of ministers thought she was the only person able to do it, the mood in the party had turned sour in recent weeks with one senior Conservative MP saying they were "in the mood for regime change".

However, both sides hope that a joint declaration on the nature of the transition in March can give businesses and people some more certainty to make decisions about their future. Hunt insisted critics who think May is too "timid" as prime minister are "absolutely wrong".

"But participating in a customs union should not preclude us from formally negotiating - or indeed signing - trade agreements. That is something we can be very positive about".

On Friday, Davis will set out his plan for a status quo transition, which will see the "current terms" of EU membership of the single market and customs union extended.

Prime Minister Theresa May is struggling to balance the desires of hardline "Brexiteers", agnostics, and pro-EU parliamentarians within her own party.


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