David Davis starts fresh talks denying Johnson has changed Brexit plan

The Brexit secretary, David Davis, will arrive in Brussels on Monday to begin a fresh round of talks about British withdrawal from the EU against a backdrop of renewed cabinet i

Davis will meet the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, in the Belgian capital in the morning to commence the fourth round of negotiations.

The meeting follows Theresa May’s speech in Florence on Friday in which she offered to keep paying into the EU purse for a two-year transitional period after Brexit in 2019.

Barnier welcomed the speech, declaring that May “expressed a constructive spirit” and a “willingness to move forward”.

Although UK ministers presented a united front about the plans, which were accompanied by a more conciliatory tone than previous speeches, there were reports of backroom disagreements between the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and the chancellor, Philip Hammond.

Davis was forced to deny reports that the government’s plan had changed after Johnson – who was reportedly prepared to resign – released his own wide-ranging Brexit manifesto in a 4,000-word article in the Daily Telegraph.

“The simple truth is Boris signed up to this,” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show.

Supporters of Johnson claimed that he had successfully stopped May from proposing a Norway-style deal by which Britain would continue to pay in to the union and abide by its rules in return for access to the single market.

However, Davis told Marr that the policy in May’s speech had been coming for a long time. Some of it, he said, such as transition, had been designed at the beginning of the year. Asked if he agreed with the home secretary, Amber Rudd, who accused the foreign secretary of acting as a “backseat driver”, Davis demurred: “My car’s only got two seats.”

The Liberal Democrat chief whip, Alistair Carmichael, said the government was in utter chaos and called on the prime minister to “give Boris the boot and reassert her authority”.

“If she cannot do that then she should stand aside for someone who can,” he said.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, faced calls to advocate continued single-market membership so that the party can offer a clear alternative to the Tories over Brexit.

As Labour’s annual conference opens in Brighton, more than 30 MPs, together with MEPs, Labour peers, trade union leaders and mayors, published an open letter in the Observer demanding that Labour show “the courage of its convictions” and toughen its pro-EU message.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Mattha Busby and agency, for theguardian.com on Monday 25th September 2017 05.25 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010