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David Davis: Brexit Critics Undermining 'National Interest'

David Davis
David Davis, secretary of state for exiting the European Union, in Westminster, London, Britain, September 12. Davis said his department had no assessed the economic impact of leaving the EU without a deal. Handout/Parliament TV/Handout/Reuters

Politicians calling for the U.K. to give details of its Brexit negotiation strategy are undermining the national interest, the government minister in charge of the process has suggested.

David Davis, the secretary of state for exiting the European Union, was asked in the House of Commons Thursday by Labour MP Jenny Chapman if he could give details on potential future British payments to the EU.

Davis responded by quoting European Commission guidelines on trade negotiations that recommend maintaining a level of secrecy. “When entering into a game nobody starts by revealing his entire strategy from the outset,” he said.

“What the opposition are trying to do,” Davis added, “is to put us in a disadvantaged position against the European Union. That is not in the national interest.”

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and some Conservatives have called on the government to reveal more about its starting position for forthcoming negotiations with the EU, in order to allow more in-depth parliamentary scrutiny of the process. Government ministers have repeatedly insisted they will not give a “running commentary” on the vote.

Many critics are particularly keen to establish the government’s position on the single market free trade area, and whether it sees remaining within it as a priority. Many businesses also fear that new restrictions on immigration will make it harder for them to recruit staff.

Speaking Thursday, Davis did give some assurances to the business community, promising that the government’s post-Brexit immigration policy would not restricted access to highly skilled workers the country needs.

"It’s not going to be in the national interest to restrict the movement of talent, if you like, the free movement of brain power," he said.

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