TORY Brexit minister David Davis was accused of waffling after he made his first Parliamentary statement on the UK’s plans to leave the EU yesterday.

Davis said he would build a consensus on what Brexit would look like and that this would be agreeable to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, although he said Scotland would not have a veto.

The Minister also suggested the UK would be able to control immigration and retain free trade.

In his statement he attempted to define Brexit: “Simply, it means the UK leaving the European Union. We will decide on our borders, our laws, and taxpayers’ money,” he said, insisting that meant no attempt to “delay, frustrate or thwart the will of the British people”.

Sitting on the front bench in the Commons, squashed between prominent Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Liam Fox, Davis listened as MPs on all sides of the house attacked him for being unrealistic and saying little.

Davis said his work would be driven by four key principles: to seek the national consensus; to put the national interest first and act in good faith towards European partners; to minimise uncertainty; and ultimately to leave the European Union.

The SNP’s Europe Spokesman Stephen Gethins seemed surprised when Davis finished up, asking “was that it?”, and pointing out that there had been little to reassure EU nationals, universities and businesses.

He added: “It has to be said it is the mark of an irresponsible government, just as it was the mark of an irresponsible Leave campaign, that we know nothing more about the phrase ‘Brexit means Brexit’. Nothing more.

“This is creating a huge level of uncertainty for our universities – research institutions who need some certainty beyond 2020, food and drink producers, and EU nationals who have made this country their home and deserve much better.

“The current situation is unsustainable. The lack of any clear strategy and the deep divisions in government are causing huge levels of uncertainty for all those impacted by the decision to leave the EU – the businesses that rely on access to the single market, the farmers, food and drink producers who stand to lose vital support, the universities who rely on cooperation and funding, and the EU nationals who have made their home here and contribute so much.”

Labour’s Emily Thornberry said the government had gone from “gross negligence to rank incompetence” and said MPs should have a say on when article 50, the process for exiting the EU, is triggered:

“When there is no evidence of sound planning by the government, no detail whatsoever on the deal they want to strike, the strategy for achieving that deal or the reasons for rushing it through, parliament must have more than a say on those issues.

“We must have a vote.”

The SNP’s Pete Wishart called the speech “15 minutes of waffle”.

Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “David Davis told us nothing. He read out a few dates in his diary, but anyone looking for Britain’s post-Brexit strategy would have looked in vain.”

The European Union, the Scottish Government’s Minister Designate for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, Michael Russell welcomed that the UK Government had now “begun the process of outlining what ‘Brexit means Brexit’ actually means.”

He added: “However, there remains a complete lack of detail. Today’s statement leaves very many unanswered questions regarding the UK Government’s final destination in negotiations with EU partners, not least on the issue of continued membership – or otherwise – of the single market.

“Indeed, the statement that Brexit ‘must mean controls on the numbers of people who come to Britain from Europe’, while also seeking a ‘positive outcome’ for trade in goods and services is contradictory given the essential conditions of the single market, yet no explanation is given how this could be achieved. A failure to make meaningful and achievable commitment to continued single market membership threatens very severe economic consequences, so we will continue to make the case, in the strongest possible terms, to retain membership as that is in the best interests of Scotland and the UK.”

May was attending the G20 summit of world leaders in China where she gave her first press conference since becoming Prime Minister.

The session was dominated by Brexit and immigration after reports indicated that May had rejected a points-based system on immigration. That change had been a key promise in the Vote Leave campaign. “I want a system where the government is able to decide who comes into the country – I think that’s what the British people want. A points-based system means that people come in automatically if they just meet the criteria,” she added.

Ukip’s Nigel Farage said he was worried by the Prime Minister’s comments: “The people were clear in wanting a points-based immigration system which is why so many went out and voted to leave the European Union,” he said. “Any watering down from that will lead to real anger.”

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