TORY Brexit minister David Davis was slapped down by Theresa May after he claimed it was “very improbable” the UK will remain a member of the single market if it means accepting free movement of people.

Despite Davis speaking from the dispatch box in the Commons in his first official statement as the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman claimed Davis had been giving “his opinion” and not stating government policy.

During the debate following the statement on Monday afternoon, Davis said it would be unlikely that the UK would remain in the single market after Brexit if it meant having to accept the free movement of people.

“This government is looking at every option but the simple truth is that if a requirement of membership is giving up control of our borders, I think that makes it very improbable.”

Yesterday, May’s official spokeswoman told journalists: “The PM has set out that we are going to need to be able to address people’s concerns about migration with the EU and get the best possible deal in trade and services and now work is under way.”

Davis, the spokeswoman said, was “setting out his view”.

She continued: “The Prime Minister recognises that people have differing views and … all of this has to be negotiated with European partners. The Prime Minister’s view is that we should be ambitious and go after the best deal we can. The Secretary of State said we want the best deal for trades and services: that is what the Prime Minister is doing.”

When asked again if Davis was expressing government policy, she said: “He is setting out his opinion. A policy tends to be a direction of travel: saying something is probable or improbable is not policy.”

The SNP’s Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins said May’s very public rebuke of Davis was indicative of the government’s confusion over Brexit: “It is ridiculous that after a full two months waiting to get even the barest bones of what their Brexit plans are, ministers are still ‘just expressing opinions’. If the Brexit secretary doesn’t know what government policy on Brexit is then who does? It is ludicrous.

“There is clearly utter confusion at the heart of the UK Government and on a matter so desperately important – with businesses and people across the UK as a whole looking for some degree of clarity – that is deeply worrying.”

Meanwhile, two City institutions have scaled back their predictions of an imminent Brexit recession after better than expected economic surveys. Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley revised growth projections for 2016 and 2017, saying they were no longer expecting a recession but warning that the vote to leave the EU would still slow growth.

The Bank of Scotland also claimed Scotland’s food and drink sector had responded “bullishly” to the EU referendum result, with half of those surveyed saying the result led them to raise business growth estimates, compared to 25 per cent who dropped estimates.

However, four in 10 companies identified leaving the EU as the biggest challenge facing the sector in the next five years, followed by overseas competition.

Jane Clark-Hutchison from the bank said: “It’s incredibly heartening that, just weeks after the EU referendum result, our survey shows that bullish food and drink firms expect to grow, invest, recruit and innovate.”