Last night’s Question Time was a Brexit special – and we learned a few new things about Britain’s exit from the EU.
With the triggering of Article 50 just one day away, fresh information was gleamed from Brexit Secretary David Davis about what the UK can expect over the next two years.
Here’s five things we found out last night…
The UK will NOT hand over a £50bn ‘divorce’ settlement
Mr Davis insisted that despite calls from EU leaders that Britain will have to settle an exit fee on outstanding liabilities, we won’t be paying anything close to that. And while stopping short of saying we wouldn’t hand over any cash at all, the Brexit Secretary seemed confident the final total will be a lot smaller. He said: “We will, of course, meet our international obligations but we expect also our rights to be respected too. I don’t think we are going to be seeing that sort of money change hands.”
Immigration will not necessarily go down
Arguably one of the main reasons people voted for Brexit was concern over high levels of immigration from Europe. But Mr Davis may have cast doubts on figures going down straight away during the Question Time special. In fact, he suggested that the figures may in fact go up from time to time, depending on whether immigrants would serve the “national interest” – but it would be up to the Government rather than the EU. He said: “The simple truth is that we have to manage this problem. You’ve got industry dependent on migrants. You’ve got social welfare, the national health service. You have to make sure they continue to work.”
No deal is still an option – and not as bad as critics think
While stating that Britain wants to walk away from negotiations without any deal, Mr Davis said that a ‘no deal’ option is still a possibility if it works out better than the final deal offered. He said that the Government have spent the last nine months putting contingency plans in place in case such a scenario were to arrive. However, he stressed a “comprehensive” agreement remained the ultimate goal of the Government.
Britain will not necessarily get the same benefits outside the single market
While Mr Davis previously insister the UK would get the exact same benefits despite being outside the single market, he appeared to distance himself from the comments last night, insisting he was just being “ambitious” about what the Government could get. He said: “One of the problems that happens when democracies negotiate is that the politicians are afraid of raising expectations. The truth is we are negotiating for the future of our country. Therefore we want to raise the expectations as much as we possibly can, we want to aim as high as we possibly can. I make no apology for being ambitious about what we achieve.”
Britain will not pay the EU for access to the single market
There will be no ‘half in, half out’ measures – Mr Davis said Britain had voted to leave the EU and that meant no access to the single market by paying contributions to the EU. He said that while initially saying the Government would consider it, the Prime Minister later told him it would not happen.
Top pic: BBC