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Government dismisses leak

Scribbled notes say UK ‘unlikely to stay in single market’

eu-referendumDowning Street appears to be accepting that Britain will not be offered access to the single market in its Brexit talks, according to the notes of a Conservative party official.

Handwritten notes, carried by an assistant to the Tory vice-chairman Mark Field, have been photographed and suggest current thinking by those managing the UK’s departure from the EU.

The notes were seen after a meeting at the Department for Exiting the European Union, and clearly state: “What’s the model? Have your cake and eat it.”

They add: “French likely to be most difficult.”

In the most stark admission, the notes say: “We think it’s unlikely we’ll be offered Single Market.”

There is a suggestion that a deal on manufacturing with the EU should be “relatively straightforward” while services may prove more difficult.

The government was quick to distance itself form the documents, saying they did not reflect the government’s position in relation to Brexit negotiations.

The woman carrying the document is believed to be Julia Dockerill, chief of staff to Mr Field.  He has no direct Brexit role but his seniority in the party means he will be close to current thinking.

Opposition politicians say the notes clearly point to current discussions among those involved in key negotiations at the heart of government.

The document appears to suggest there are drawbacks in adopting the Norwegian model of being in the European Economic Area which is outside the EU but inside the single market.

This may suit those who do not like the EU’s requirement that EEA members must accept free movement of labour.

The SNP said the notes show the Tory government “desperately scrabbling to formulate a strategy for Britain leaving the EU”

It said this includes hopes for a deal on the single market without any guarantees, ruling out transitional arrangements and appear to suggest “bringing an end to negotiations” that, by the Tories own account, are yet to begin. 

Stephen Gethins, the SNP spokesman on Europe, said the notes reveal a government “with no direction, and no clue”.

 He added: “At every turn it becomes increasingly clear that the Tories have no plan for Brexit and now it’s clear they’re just trying to make it up as they go along.

“While the SNP has emphasised at every stage the importance of remaining within the single market, the UK government are simply crossing their fingers and hoping for the best. But governing on a wing and prayer when our future in Europe is at stake is completely reckless.

“These notes reveal a government with no direction, and no clue. And worryingly those in favour of taking us out of the EU appear set to cut off their nose to spite their face – with an apparent call to end any negotiations with Europe before they’ve properly begun and already wishing to pull the plug on the prospect of transitional arrangements.

“These scribbled papers, however scant, seem to be the only plan the UK Government has and stand starkly in contrast to the very clear plans set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in the aftermath of the EU Referendum. 

“If they weren’t so deeply troubling, these revelations would be risible. Public patience has worn thin with stonewalling and obfuscating from the UK government – it’s now high time they set out a proper plan on leaving the EU as opposed to hastily jotted down notes, so short on substance.”

Lib Dems leader said: “If this is a strategy it is incoherent. We can’t have our cake and eat it and there is no certainty on the single market. This picture shows the government doesn’t have a plan or even a clue.”

On Sunday it was reported that Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, backs a transitional deal with the EU to cushion the impact of Brexit for businesses until at least 2021.

 

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