Former Brexit secretary tells government 50 civil servants not enough to negotiate deal

David Davis speaks in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

David Davis speaks in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV. - Credit: Archant

Despite the government sending 50 civil servants to Brussels to deal with the Brexit negotiations, a former minister has claimed that the figure needs to be in the hundreds.

The government has insisted it is 'working hard' for a deal, with fifty civil servants working through the deal.

But David Davis, a former Brexit secretary, said that he feared the numbers were not enough and needed to be considerably more.

He explained that negotiations between the EU and UK were not going fast enough and this was having an impact on other countries trying to agree a deal.

He told the Daily Mail: 'It ought to be a couple of hundred, in truth. Because there are so many things going on in parallel.'

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He added: 'We are also negotiating with Japan, and the New Zealanders and Australians... and the Americans and the New Zealanders are complaining we're not moving fast enough.

'And that is partly because of the capability in Whitehall, and I dare I say it, the enthusiasm in Whitehall.'

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His comments come as the UK continues to vow not to accept any alignment on EU rules as part of a deal, ahead of fresh talks resuming in Brussels.

A government source said: 'We remain committed to working hard to find the outlines of a balanced agreement.

'We have been repeatedly clear that we are looking for a deal with, at its core, a free trade agreement similar to the one the EU already has with Canada – that is, an agreement based on existing precedents.

'But what we cannot have is a form of relationship which requires alignment or one that constrains us to the EU's rules.

'Our priority throughout the process has always been the return of our sovereignty.'

Davis earlier this year said he 'misspoke' when he claimed a trade deal with the EU would be ready for Brexit day,

He insisted he meant there would be one by the end of the transition period, telling the BBC: 'The end of the year. And I may be wrong about that, because we only have a year, and before we would have had two years.'

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