Last updated Saturday, December 10, 2016 9:01 am GMT+8

Thursday December 1, 2016
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A banner encouraging people to support a local Brexit campaign hangs on the side of a building in Altrincham, Britain May 3, 2016. — Reuters picA banner encouraging people to support a local Brexit campaign hangs on the side of a building in Altrincham, Britain May 3, 2016. — Reuters picLONDON, Dec 1 — Britain would consider paying for continued access to the European single market after it leaves the EU, a senior minister said today, boosting investors’ hopes of a “soft Brexit”.

The minister for exiting the EU, David Davis, was asked in parliament whether the government would consider making “any contribution in any shape or form for access to the single market” after it withdraws from the bloc.

Davis replied: “There is a distinction between picking off an individual policy and setting out a major criteria, and the major criteria here is that we get the best possible access for goods and services to the European market.

“If that is included in what you are talking about then of course we would consider it.”

Davis and other top Brexit supporters campaigned to stop payments to the EU during the campaign ahead of the June referendum, making it into a top slogan.

The pound rallied on Davis’s comments against both the euro and the dollar, amid hopes that Britain could continue existing ties with its largest trading partner.

“Sterling is on the tear this morning on hopes for a soft Brexit,” said Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital.

“David Davis said the UK could contribute to the EU budget in return for access to markets and that has fuelled a rally for the pound.”

Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman denied a change in strategy, saying London had long argued that “it will be for the UK government to make decisions on how taxpayers’ money will be spent”.

She added: “All these issues will be a matter for the negotiation.”

Davis also confirmed that the government would seek to agree both its exit terms and future trade arrangements within the two-year withdrawal process.

“We want to see them both done in parallel inside the two years,” he said.

The government has said it intends to give formal notification of its intention to leave the EU by the end of March, setting off a two-year countdown to the divorce.

Davis indicated the government would not act before the end of March, saying: “We will use all 121 days to get the best possible policy for us and then we will put that single policy to the European Union.” — AFP

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