Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has followed David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, in suggesting the Tories are leaning towards a ‘soft’ Brexit and UK could pay into EU’s budget after the UK leaves.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr show this morning, Mr. Johnson acknowledged the Tory government is now considering payments in exchange for Single Market access, but said he did not want them to be “large”.
“That is obviously something that David Davis is considering but it doesn’t mean a decision has been taken”, he said. “I am not going to get involved in the minutiae of our negotiating position before we trigger article 50.”
Last week, long-standing Eurosceptic Mr. Davis shocked parliament by revealing he would accept paying into the EU budget.
“The major criterion here is that we get the best possible access for goods and services to the European market,” he said. “And if that is included in what he is talking about, then of course we would consider it.”
Remain supports from the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Tory parties are pushing for the UK to settle for a ‘soft Brexit’ where it remains inside the Single Markel, subject to many EU rules and even free movement.
Some MPs believe Mr. Davis has recently forged closer ties with Chancellor Philip Hammond, who is strongly for a ‘soft brexit’, with one telling the Sun: “There has been a clear shift in the past week. The issue of Brexit is no longer hard or soft, black or white. It’s a sort of grey.”
Another source added: “David’s remarks must have been cleared at the highest level. Whenever Boris has spoken on the subject he’s been shot down.
“But suddenly we have David telling the Commons we could continue to pump cash into the EU and repeating it six hours later on TV without a peep from Downing Street.”
In another sign Tory Brexiteers are moving towards a ‘soft Brexit’, Mr. Davis also said last week he was prepared to continue accepting high levels of low-skilled migration from the EU after Brexit.
Mr. Davis told a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) dinner in Wales that he did not want “to see labor shortages in key sectors” and would not change free movement rules “in a way that it is contrary to the national and economic interest”.