David Davis has warned against “putting politics above prosperity” in Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU.
In a speech in Berlin, the UK’s Brexit Secretary outlined his hopes for a deal that “allows for the freest possible trade in goods and services”.
He also pledged that the UK would not engage in a “race to the bottom”.
The EU says negotiations cannot move on to trade until questions about the UK “divorce bill”, citizens’ rights and Northern Ireland are resolved.
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said Mr Davis’s speech was delivered politely but implied “pretty significant frustrations on the UK side with the EU’s attitude”.
She added that a German interviewer got a round of applause for suggesting the UK government looked to be “in chaos”.
In his speech to an economic conference organised by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Mr Davis said trade between Germany and the UK was worth 176bn euros a year or “more than a thousand euros to every man, woman and child in each of our countries”.
He said the “close economic ties” with the EU “should continue, if not strengthen” after Brexit, and he warned: “Putting politics above prosperity is never a smart choice”.
The UK was seeking a “deep and comprehensive free trade agreement” of a scope the EU had never seen before as well as “continued close co-operation in highly regulated areas such as transport, energy and data”, he said.
Britain would use an independent trade policy to lead a “race to the top on quality and standards” rather than engage in a “race to the bottom” that would mean lower standards, he told the audience.
He said the EU and UK needed to “think creatively” about their post-Brexit relationship but stressed the need for a “time limited transition period” to implement the new arrangements.
“And that would mean access to the UK and European markets would continue on current terms. Keeping both the rights of a European Union member and the obligations of one, such as the role of the European Court of Justice.
“That also means staying in all the EU regulators and agencies during that limited period. Which would be about two years.”
He added that tariff-free trade should be maintained and there must be an “effective dispute mechanism” for any disputes that may arise, that should be neither the UK courts, nor the European Court of Justice.
“It must be appropriate for both sides so that it can give business the confidence it needs that this partnership will endure.”
In a question and answer session following his speech, Mr Davis laughed off a question about whether the UK would be prepared to pay 60bn euros to settle its financial obligations.
He said the UK’s aim was that “nobody will have to pay more, nobody will receive less” but would not give a figure that the UK would be prepared to pay.
Asked if he thought the Brexit negotiations would end in “no deal”, he said: “I think that’s incredibly unlikely.”