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  1. ITV Report

David Davis faces cries of 'waffle' as cloudy Brexit vision fails to satisfy MPs

Brexit minister David Davis was flanked by prominent pro-Brexit Cabinet colleagues Boris Johnson and Liam Fox.

Brexit minister David Davis has been accused of delivering "empty platitudes" amid cries of "waffle" as his first address to MPs since taking the post failed to deliver key details on the terms of the UK's exit from the EU.

After wide interpretations at Prime Minister Theresa May's statement that "Brexit means Brexit", Mr Davis defined the term at the start of his address, saying: "Simply it means leaving the European Union."

David Davis confirmed there would be no attempt to delay the terms of withdrawal.

But in a two-hour question and answer session in Parliament, he refused to be drawn on when Britain will begin the formal withdrawal negotiations or the nature of a new trade deal with EU members, saying his department was still exploring how to get the "best deal for Britain".

Mr Davis, whose formal title is Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, discussed several key Brexit issues though often stopped short of revealing the Government's determined policy.

Here's what he had to say:

Trade and immigration

Mr Davis said Britain would seek the "freest possible" trading arrangement with the EU after Brexit while also controlling immigration, rejecting claims that tighter border measures would preclude new trade deals.

"Neither do I think that it is a simple trade-off that an immigration control system which suits our country is necessarily one that will preclude a good trade relationship with the European Union," he told parliament.

"Trade relationships are beneficial to both sides, we should not need to make a policy purchase in order to get such a relationship."

Mr Davis said disgruntlement over immigration formed a "clear large part" of the majority referendum vote. He added: "The Prime Minister has made it very plain that the current state of immigration cannot go on and we will bring it to an end as a part of this process."

Speaking from the G20 summit in China, Mrs May ruled out adopting an Australian-style points-based immigration system, saying it would not give the Government control over the movement of people post-Brexit.

The timing of Britain's withdrawal

Mrs May has confirmed she will not formally trigger withdrawal negotiations - by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - before the end of the year.

Mr Davis did not put a date on the triggering of Article 50 but said he would "prefer to be a month late" rather that get its timing wrong.

David Davis was accused by Labour of 'pipedream' politics and 'rhetoric'.

Second referendums

Mr Davis was adamant on this issue, saying: "(There will be) no attempt to delay, frustrate or thwart the will of the British people. No attempt to engineer a second referendum because some people didn't like the first answer."

Mr Davis made his statement as MPs at nearby Westminster Hall began debating a petition calling for a second referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU.

The debate was held after more than four million people signed the petition but, speaking in the Commons, Mr Davis claimed most of those who voted to remain in the EU had now accepted the result.

He said the result of the 52-48 referendum vote in favour of Leave means Britain "will decide on our borders, our laws and our taxpayers' money".

Mr Davis said the referendum had given the Government a "national mandate" to deliver a form of withdrawal "in the national interest".

Demands for a second referendum on Britain's European Union membership were being debated by MPs in Westminster. Credit: PA

Access to the single market

Mr Davis said the Government was looking at "every option" related to the EU single market, including the "risks" of access.

"Those are issues, all of them, passporting, access to markets ... they are all issues that are being looked at and evaluated in terms of where the real risks are," he said.

Mr Davis said access is "not really up for grabs, it's there for everybody" and said many countries from outside of the EU "do a better job" of benefiting from it than the UK does now.

Mr Davis also said the European bloc would not want to harm itself in delaying trading with the UK as it faces economic difficulties.

But he added while warnings over the impact of a Brexit vote on the economy had been "proven to be wrong", Britain should "not get too optimistic before we close the deal."

Criticism from Labour

Labour's Emily Thornberry said the Government had only clarified what action they wouldn't take in relation to Brexit. Credit: PA

Labour's shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, in response, criticised Mr Davis, saying his announcement had delivered "more empty platitudes" from a government that is "making it up as it goes along".

She said the speech had described a "pipedream" and "rhetoric" rather than reveal a "strategy" for Brexit as opposition MPs accused Mr Davis of "waffle".

Last night we had the Prime Minister seemingly on a plane telling us what she wasn't going to be doing. It seems we're not going to have a points-based immigration system and we're not going to have any extra money for the NHS and we're not going to have any reduction in VAT on fuel.

But what we haven't been told is what they're going to do. When are they going to tell us how they're going to deliver, for example, free trade for British businesses while also opposing immigration controls - let alone how they're going to address the red lines Labour has demanded on the protection of workers' rights and guarantees for EU citizens?"

– Emily Thornberry

The criticism from Ms Thornberry was echoed by her party colleagues.

The Government posted Davis Davis' full ministerial statement on its website.

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