The government is facing embarrassment after a Downing Street photographer captured what appeared to be the UK’s Brexit negotiating plan sketched out in a page of handwritten notes.
Despite ministers and aides being caught out in the past carrying their notes into Number 10, the government’s aim to “have cake & eat it” in talks with Brussels was clearly legible.
It is not clear who carried the notes into Downing Street. In an apparent reference to the UK’s desire for access to the EU single market, the document said “manufacturing [is] relatively straightforward” but added: “services harder – because French hoping for business”. Paris is attempting to lure UK financial services away from London amid fears they could lose the right to operate in Europe.
On the possibility of the UK seeking temporary membership of the EEA after Brexit, the notes state: “Transitional – loathe to do it. Whitehall will hold onto it. We need to bring an end to the negotiation.”
“These scribbled papers, however scant, seem to be the only plan the UK Government has,” said SNP Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins. “While the SNP has emphasised at every stage the importance of remaining within the single market, the UK government are simply crossing their fingers and hoping for the best.”
A Downing Street source was quoted as saying the note was “not a government document” and did not represent the UK’s position on Brexit negotiations.