David Davis Tells MPs His Brexit Plan Will Not Be Published Until At Least February

Brexit Secretary David Davis gives evidence to the Commons Exiting the EU Committee at Portcullis House in London.
Brexit Secretary David Davis gives evidence to the Commons Exiting the EU Committee at Portcullis House in London.
PA/PA Wire

David Davis has said the government will not reveal its plan for Brexit until February at the earliest.

The Brexit secretary also admitted today the Article 50 process - the formal method of leaving the EU - could be reversible.

Earlier this month MPs demanded Theresa May give them greater details about her negotiation strategy before she triggers Article 50. The prime minister has said she intends to do this by the end of March 2017.

Asked today when the plan would be unveiled, the Brexit secretary said “it won’t be next month”.

This would give MPs just weeks to scrutinise the plan for leaving the EU.

Davis was appearing before MPs on the Brexit select committee. He said the plan, in some form, would be made public “as soon as we can”.

But he said it would have to be “not hazardous” to his negotiating hand by giving away too much to the EU about what the UK wanted.

He told the committee there were “quite a few decisions still to be made” by ministers and his department about what the plan would be.

Several MPs, including Conservatives, want May to set out her plan for Brexit in a formal white paper. However Davis evaded answering whether this would be done or not. “We will decide on the format when we get closer to the time,” he said.

And he revealed the plan could contain “more than one option” for Brexit. “We will say as clearly as we can where we want to go,” he told MPs.

Davis also told MPs that many EU leaders still believe Brexit “can’t really happen”.

“There is a view point, I think, which is only really fading, among some Europeans, that we can’t really mean this, that we can be persuaded to change our minds,” he said.

“One of the virtues of the Article 50 process its sets you on way, it’s very difficult to seeing it being revoked. We don’t intend to revoke it.”

He added about the prospect of Brexit being halted: “It may not be revokable - I don’t know.”

A Government source later clarified to The Huffington Post that there was “no legal basis to suggest” Article 50 was reversible.

Davis is understood to believe that the formal Brexit process is politically irreversible but it will be up to the courts to decide the legal position.

Davis recently raised hopes of those hoping for a so-called ‘soft Brexit’ when eh said the government was open to paying money to the EU to secure access to the single market.

However he told MPs his comment had been “slightly over interpreted” and he had merely been neither ruling anything in nor out. “To count it out is not to count it in. I’m trying to keep open as many negotiating tools as we can,” he said.

He also hinted the government could decide to have different rules for low skilled and high skilled workers and said ministers would decide whether “what is necessary for fruit picking” as compared to what was needed for universities.

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