Brexit Secretary David Davis has warned Germany and other European nations not to “put politics above prosperity” during negotiations over the UK quitting the European Union.
In a provocative speech in Berlin, Davis signalled Germany and other EU states risked damaging their own economies by playing hardball with Britain as they thrashed out trade deals.
After detailling the many economic ties between the UK and Germany, he said: “In the face of those facts I know that no one would allow short term interests to risk those hard-earned gains. Because putting politics above prosperity is never a smart choice.”
The Cabinet minister mapped out a vision of Britain and the EU working together on issues like education qualifications and health and safety standards, and suggested this would be crucial for trade to continue.
“We will be a third country partner like no other. Much closer than Canada, much bigger than Norway, and uniquely integrated on everything from energy networks to services,” he said.
“The key pillar of this will be a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement – the scope of which should beyond any the EU has agreed before.
“One that allows for a close economic partnership while holding the UK’s rights and obligations in a new and different balance.”
He made no mention of the so-called ‘divorce bill’ that has so far held up talks over trade and against suggestions the UK is willing to offer £80bn.
Davis also said the referendum vote had left many Europeans with “doubts about what kind of country we are”.
He told the Süddeutsche Zeitung economic conference: “I recognise that, since the referendum last year, some in the European Union have had their doubts about what kind of country we are, or indeed what we stand for.
“Now if you want to know the mind of a nation all one must do is read its press. so with that in mind I looked through some copies of Suddeutsche Zeitung. I read that ‘Britain wants to isolate itself’, that we are ‘short-sighted islanders’, or ‘Inselbewohner’.
“Well I’m afraid I have to disagree. We are the same country we have always been, with the same values and same principles we have always had: a country upon which our partners can rely.
“The sixth largest economy in the world, and a beacon for free trade across the globe; and when it comes to trade - as we forge a new path for Britain outside the European Union - I believe we can be its boldest advocate.”