Britain would consider making payments to the European Union in return for achieving the best possible access to the bloc’s markets for businesses, Brexit minister David Davis said on Thursday.
The British government is in the process of formulating its negotiating position ahead of formal divorce talks next year, and businesses have been pressing for more clarity over the future relationship so they can better plan for Brexit.
Davis was asked repeatedly by lawmakers during a regular question session in parliament about the prospect of having to contribute to the EU budget.
“Withdrawing from the EU means the decisions on how we spend taxpayers’ money will be made in the United Kingdom,” he said.
Asked by an opposition Labour lawmaker if the government would consider making “any contribution in any shape or form” for access to the EU’s single market, Davis said it would.
“The major criterion here is that we get the best possible access for goods and services to the European market and if that is included in what he’s talking about, then of course we would consider it,” he said.
Sterling bounced to an almost three-month high in trade-weighted terms after Davis’s comments.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman said the comments were consistent with what the government had said about Britain deciding how taxpayers’ money will be spent.
Davis also dismissed media reports that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had told several EU ambassadors he supports freedom of movement, describing them as “completely at odds” with what he believed Johnson’s view to be.
Source: Reuters (Additional reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Stephen Addison)