Brexit Secretary David Davis has turned the European Union’s negotiating mantra against the bloc to warn that it cannot cherry pick the terms of a free trade deal.
Britain wants “the full sweep of economic cooperation” and financial services must not be excluded from any agreement, Mr Davis said.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has repeatedly insisted the UK cannot choose to keep the best elements of membership when it quits the bloc.
No trade agreement exists that includes financial services and the City of London will inevitably face curbs on access, he has warned.
But Mr Davis said a deal that took some areas of the current economic relationship but not others would be “cherry picking”.
In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Davis wrote: “I do not believe the strength of this cooperation needs change because we are leaving the European Union.”
“Many of these principles can be applied to services trade too. Given the strength and breadth of the pan-European economic relationship, a deal that took in some areas of our economic relationship but not others would be, in the favoured phrase of EU diplomats, cherry picking.”
The UK Government is under pressure to provide more clarity for business as the new phase of exit talks begin.
EU leaders in the rest of the bloc remained united during the first stage of negotiations, but the bond could be tested as the bloc considers what kind of trading terms are on offer to the UK – an important export market for many member states.
And in a separate development, a prominent Conservative think-tank warned that Theresa May’s Government could be toppled by Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers if the Prime Minister sought to push through a “soft” Brexit.
The Bow Group, whose patrons include leading Brexiteer John Redwood, issued a list of 11 “red lines” which it said were backed by up to 130 Brexit-backing MPs.
:: No divorce payment to the EU;
:: No transition period after March 2019;
:: Withdrawal on March 29 2019, whether or not a deal has been struck;
:: An end to European Court of Justice jurisdiction and free movement and withdrawal from the single market and customs union.
The group also called for the UK Government to override the House of Lords if it makes any attempt to block its flagship Brexit legislation.
Bow Group chairman Benjamin Harris-Quinney said: “The difference between what Brexiteer MPs will accept and the deal the Government is building is apparent and stark.”
“What these MPs have told the Bow Group is that their red lines are very clear and they will not support a Government that does not deliver on them.”
“They are far greater in number than the Remain rebels and many of them have spent 30 or 40 years campaigning for Brexit – they aren’t going to give up now.”
“Whilst technically Theresa May has enough support in Parliament as a whole to pass a soft Brexit, 130 Conservative MPs being opposed to it will topple the Government immediately, preventing such a Bill from being passed.”
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: “The PM must dismiss the sabre-rattling from the swivel-eyed tendency in the Bow Group.”
“Their demand that the UK crashes out of the EU would do permanent and extensive damage to the livelihoods of millions of British citizens. She must listen instead to the millions of people who want a vote on the deal and a chance to exit from Brexit.”