Tory Brexiteer accuses Cabinet minister of ‘freelancing’ for EU

Business Secretary Greg Clark was accused of “freelancing” for the EU after he endorsed an idea to extend the transition period to 2022.

Tory Brexiteer Philip Davies demanded a clarification of Government policy in the Commons after Mr Clark appeared to back an idea to keep the UK tied to Brussels for up to two further years.

Mr Clark, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday, said the option of extending the transition period at “our discretion” could help businesses having to potentially change working practices twice.

He said: “It would be for this purpose, if the negotiations are making good progress but haven’t quite been finalised, to have the option – and it would be an option for us, and there is value in having an option – in rather than going in for a temporary period into the backstop and having a second change, to have the option, if the UK wanted, to extend the transition period.”

Mr Davies, speaking at business, energy and industrial strategy questions, said: “The question is really whether we leave the EU at all.

“Yesterday on the Today programme the Secretary of State was arguing in favour of a proposal by the EU to extend the implementation period to the end of 2022.

“So was the Secretary of State doing his usual EU freelancing or is that now the official policy of the UK Government?”

Business Minister Richard Harrington responded: “The Government wants to finish the future trading relationship with the EU as quickly as possible and (Greg Clark) mentioned one alternative to achieve this.”

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