Hammond and Fox vow transition will be no 'back door' to EU

Brexit Secretary David Davis

Brexit Secretary David Davis

They will start with one covering the thorny issues of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic to be followed in the autumn by a second series looking at the future relationship with the European Union, including post-Brexit customs arrangements. That is why we believe a time-limited interim period will be important to further our national interest and give business greater certainty - but it can not be indefinite; it can not be a back door to staying in the EU.

However, pro-European Finance Minister Hammond and ardent Brexiteer Trade Minister Fox set out a joint position in the Sunday Telegraph that a transition period was needed when Britain leaves the European Union, but single market membership would still end and the interim period would not be used to stop Brexit.

With Ms May due to return from her summer holiday, the article appeared created to end party feuding as well as ongoing speculation that the United Kingdom might somehow be able to salvage membership of the single market through negotiations with the EU.

In the coming week the British government is to begin publishing papers that will have more details of its policies and goals in relation to the Brexit process.

In a joint Sunday Telegraph article, Philip Hammond and Liam Fox stressed any deal would not be indefinite or a "back door" to staying in the EU.

The UK government said it was preparing several papers, including plans for a new customs arrangement and for the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. "That means businesses need to have confidence that there will not be a cliff-edge when we leave the European Union in just over 20 months' time", they wrote.

BBC political correspondent Ben Wright said Mr Hammond - who is seen to favour a "softer" approach to Brexit - and Mr Fox, one of the most prominent pro-Brexit ministers, had "previously appeared at loggerheads" over the government's strategy on leaving the EU.

But our correspondent said their article was an attempt to "prove cabinet unity on Brexit".

Mr Miliband, who narrowly lost out to his brother Ed in the 2010 Labour leadership contest and who now heads the International Rescue Committee relief agency in NY, described the outcome of the 2016 referendum as an "unparalleled act of economic self-harm".

Writing in the Observer, he said: "People say we must respect the referendum".

"The referendum will be no excuse if the country is driven off a cliff".

In June, the EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier called for "more ambition, clarity and guarantees" around the protection of European Union citizens living in the UK.

The Brexit department says it will release the first set of position papers this week, more than a year after Britons voted to leave the EU.

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