Brexit minister David Davis has suggested the UK could leave the European Union before agreeing a trade deal, also distancing himself from the Leave campaign’s referendum pledge to increase NHS spending.
Addressing the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Mr Davis admitted it was “possible” the UK would not secure a trade deal with the EU during the two-year negotiation period following the triggering of Article 50, although claiming such a scenario was not a likely outcome. Mr Davis also insisted he made “no such pledge” regarding NHS spending in a sign the Leave campaign’s assertion of £350 million for the health service will not be considered binding by Theresa May’s government.
Mr Davis’ comments on the UK’s eventual trade negotiations will fuel critics concerns regarding the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, although could be consider largely speculative before formal discussions have begun. The failure to agree a trade deal during the negotiation period would likely result in the UK reverting to World Trade Organisation tariffs.