David Davis has written to Tory MPs spelling out the UK Government’s resistance to elements of Brussels’ approach to Brexit, including its bid to allow Spain a veto over the application of transitional arrangements to Gibraltar.
The Brexit Secretary backed Theresa May’s assertion that the legal text drawn up by Brussels contained unacceptable provisions relating to the Irish border.
He also confirmed the Government’s resistance to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and stressed that the UK expected any deal on transition to also apply to Gibraltar.
Brussels has said that no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom including the terms of a transition period can apply to Gibraltar without specific agreement between Spain and the UK.
But Mr Davis said the UK was clear that the withdrawal agreement “should reflect the UK territories currently covered by the EU treaties – including Gibraltar”.
“It is entirely logical, therefore, that the implementation period, which will be part of the withdrawal agreement, will also automatically apply to those territories,” he said.
In his letter, Mr Davis suggested that many of the issues could be resolved as part of the comprehensive deal on the future relationship between the UK and EU sought by the Prime Minister.
“We expect that the future economic and security partnership the UK and the EU agree will supersede many of these separation issues,” he said.
On Northern Ireland, Mr Davis said the draft legal text of the withdrawal agreement produced by the European Commission “would, if implemented, undermine the UK common market and constitutional integrity of the UK by creating a customs and regulatory border down the Irish Sea”.
“No UK Government could ever agree to it,” he told MPs, echoing the Prime Minister’s comments in the Commons.
Mr Davis said the UK and Irish governments were committed to ensuring that there would not be a hard border and agreed that the best way to achieve that was “through the overall relationship between the UK and the EU”.
“As such, this can only fully be resolved in the next phase of negotiations, when we discuss the future relationship in detail,” he said.
Mr Davis said the UK acknowledged there had to be a mechanism for governing and enforcing the withdrawal agreement but “this cannot mean the continuing jurisdiction” of the ECJ.