Govt says UK open to paying EU for single market access

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The Government says it is willing to pay to stay in the European single market after the UK leaves the bloc, as Prime Minister Theresa May is said to be “extremely confident” she can trigger Article 50 next year.

Chancellor Philip Hammond and David Davis, who is in charge of leading the UK’s from the EU, said a trade deal that exchanged EU budget payments for remaining inside the single market was one of the options under consideration, the FT reports.

Speaking to MPs yesterday, Davis said: “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 you are talking about, then of course we will consider it.”

Later on Hammond told reporters Davis was “absolutely right” not to rule out “the possibility that we might want to contribute in some way to some form of mechanism”.

Davis also confirmed Article 50 would be triggered by 31 March 2017. He reassured MPs the Government was looking for “a smooth and orderly exit” from the EU and was “examining all possible options, focusing on the mutual interests of the UK and the European Union”.

Meanwhile, a member of Theresa May’s team told the FT the Prime Minister is “extremely confident” of triggering Article 50 next year regardless of the result of next week’s Supreme Court case.

He said:“We have no doubt at all that we can proceed on the timetable we have set out.”

In November, the Government confirmed it will appeal the Brexit legal challenge brought by investment manager Gina Miller to ask Parliament to have the final vote on triggering Article 50.