“The most significant thing that happened last week is what didn’t happen,” an aide to a cabinet minister said. “DD talked about paying money into the EU budget and no one from Downing Street machinegunned him in the street.”
DD is David Davis, the minister for Brexit. When he told MPs on Thursday that the government “would consider” continuing some payments to Brussels to “get the best possible access for goods and services to the European market” it caused consternation among Eurosceptics.
Immigration is a total red line; budget contributions is where they will try to compromise
While Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, and Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, have seen many of their public pronouncements on the shape of Brexit quickly contradicted by May’s aides, this time No 10 left Davis alone, saying payments would be “a matter for negotiation”.
Those familiar with the government’s internal discussions say Davis’s statement shows that in private Theresa May is contemplating a softer Brexit than she has been publicly letting on. They say this coincides with Davis adopting a moderate approach to negotiations and Philip Hammond, the chancellor, retreating from his original position that the UK should stay in the European Union single market.It is now nearly six months since the referendum. The government appears to be taking an inordinate amount of time to decide what it wants and what it thinks it can get from the Brexit negotiations.