David Davis on Brexit: ‘I don’t think anyone is likely to follow us down this route’

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Brexit Secretary David Davis
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REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

    Fears of a domino effect from Brexit are unfounded, says David Davis. Brexit secretary says: “‘I don’t think anyone is likely to follow us down this route”. Brexit campaigners had suggested that referendum result would lead to the destruction of the EU. Davis and Downing Street distance themselves from Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

LONDON – Other European countries are highly unlikely to follow Britain’s example in leaving the EU, Britain’s Brexit secretary acknowledged yesterday.

Britain’s referendum result year led to suggestions from some Brexit campaigners that other countries would soon join the UK outside of the EU.

“We will trigger a domino effect. After us, other northern European countries will leave, starting with Denmark,” former UKIP leader Nigel Farage suggested.

French National Front leader Marine le Pen also claimed earlier this year that Brexit would “bring down all of Europe”.

“The thing that will set off the domino effect that will bring down all of Europe, is Brexit,” she said.

However, Davis told a House of Lords committee on Tuesday that fears among other EU leaders of a wave of departures had now “resiled”.

“I don’t think anybody is likely to follow us down this route,” he told a House of Lords Committee on Tuesday.

“We’re a very different country. The nearest to us, I guess, in terms of global reach is probably France. It’s not going to bail out of Europe. So I think that fear has resiled a bit.”

He said the fears may have caused some EU leaders to want to “punish” Britain in order to prevent a stampede to the exit door.

“That was, I think, mostly an emotional response but not entirely,” he said.

“The bit that was not entirely an emotional response was the feeling amongst some members of the Commission in particular that they didn’t want to allow us to appear to profit from this decision in case it was an incentive for somebody else.”

He added that “some members of the [EU] Commission probably would like this to be a difficult process for us.”

The Brexit Secretary played down suggestions that Britain would be forced to leave the EU without a deal.

He said that while other international trade deals with the EU had taken many years to complete, this was because of “political will” rather than “capacity”. He suggested that there was a political will to do a deal within two years, although it may require a longer “implementation period”.

No-deal Boris

Davis was also questioned about comments from the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson yesterday suggesting that there had been no planning in government for a scenario in which Britain leaves the EU without a deal.

The Brexit Secretary laughed off the suggestion and said they should call him to give evidence on it “if you really wanted to”.

Downing Street also distanced themselves from Johnson’s comments yesterday. A spokesperson for the prime minister said: “It is right to plan for all eventualities [on Brexit] and that is what is happening across government.”