David Davis says a new UK-EU trade deal can be finished in 12 months

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REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

    David Davis believes a new UK-EU free trade deal can be agreed in just 12 months. The Brexit Secretary told MPs on Tuesday that all aspects of Brexit negotiations can be agreed before the end of Article 50 talks. Davis dismissed the chances of reaching no Brexit deal at all as “completely off the probability scale.”

LONDON – Brexit Secretary David Davis has claimed that a new free trade deal between Britain and the EU can be agreed within the 12 months that remain of Brexit talks.

Speaking in front of the parliamentary Brexit committee on Tuesday morning, Davis said he was confident that every aspect of negotiations, including future trade, could be agreed before Article 50 talks conclude in March 2019.

Talks between British and EU negotiators are yet to move beyond phase one of talks, with both sides unable to reach an agreement on the issues of citizens’ rights, Britain’s financial obligations, and the Irish border.

Asked by Hilary Benn, chair of the Committee on Exiting the European Union, whether he thinks a free trade agreement can be agreed within 12 months, Tory minister Davis said: “Yes. The arguments against this tend to be based on other free trade agreements which are very different from ours.

“We start with identical regulatory structures. We start with an existing 600 billion euro trade exchange and the arrangements that go with that. We aim to a comprehensive free trade agreement which would be a tariff-free.”

Davis also revealed that he expects several aspects of Britain’s membership of the EU to continue during a transition period, including the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

Asked whether Britain will continue to accept the ECJ’s jurisdiction, Davis said “certainly initially,” before admitting that the Luxembourg-based court will have sway over UK law until the end of any time-limited transition period.

Prime Minister Theresa May has previously insisted that European judges will cease to have jurisdiction over Britain once it leaves the EU.

“We will not have truly left the European Union if we are not in control of our own laws,” she declared in her Lancaster House speech in January, putting total judicial independence at the very heart of her Brexit vision.

Davis added that he expects Britain to remain part of the Open Skies Agreement, European Medicines Agency, and European Aviation Safety Agency during a transition period.

The Conservative minister dismissed the possibility of Britain crashing out of Brexit talks with absolutely no deal reached, claiming “no [Brexit] deal of any sort” is “completely off the probability scale.”