David Davis has banging the drum in America today for Brexit Britain at the US Chamber of Commerce. The Brexit Secretary enjoyed his break from Brussels, telling reporters that Washington was “more fun”, but he had a serious mission: to get America excited about “a truly global Britain”. “We can be…competing on the world stage and a real champion for free trade,” he wrote for CNN ahead of his trip. “And if we embark on that path together, with our American friends, there could be a very exciting future for us all.”
Mr Davis couldn’t escape some difficult questions, as he was asked by reporters about Theresa May’s future. Mr Davis said that it was his “expectation” that the Government would survive for its full five-year term, but declined to make clear if he believed the Prime Minister would be around to “write the final chapter in Brexit”. Mr Davis had a message for his American audience, urging them – in the age of President Trump – not to “turn inwards and become isolationist”. He also made clear that he thought Brexit would be unhindered by Remainer antics in Parliament, arguing that “there is a majority to carry through Brexit in the UK Parliament and it will get done… in time”. It may not be as easy as Mr Davis makes out ( the German media, for one, is much gloomier), but his optimism will go some way to calming international investors worried that Brexit might be derailed by domestic politics.
The Brexit Secretary knew that his European counterparts would be paying attention, which is why he decided not to stir tensions by commenting on the claim from his cabinet colleague Liam Fox that EU officials were “blackmailing” Britain over the so-called divorce bill. He also reassured Europe that Britain would not rush into a “regulatory race-to-the-bottom” after leaving the Union, and insisted that he remained a “determined optimist” about the possibility of a good outcome in negotiations. That doesn’t mean he thought the process would be easy. “I have said from the beginning, it will be turbulent,” he declared. “What we’re having…is the first ripple and there will be many more ripples along the way.” If he wants to progress in these talks, he will have to sail smoothly through this turbulence.
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