The Scottish Secretary has failed to confirm if the UK will leave the EU on March 29, saying only he wanted it to.
David Mundell was quizzed by reporters today but was also unable to say for certain if Theresa May would bring forward her Brexit plan B next week.
Mr Mundell was speaking after another meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee in Whitehall. Asked if he agreed if the effective Brexit deadline was “the next couple of weeks”, following comments from business secretary Greg Clark, he said: “Obviously, we are short of time and what is important is we do reach as quick a conclusion as is possible.”
In comments reported by the Herald, he continued: “I very much regret the uncertainty that businesses are facing; that’s why I voted for a deal at the beginning of January because that was the optimum way forward.
“However, Parliament rejected that deal and we have to deal with the reality that we face and the reality is there has to be further discussion with the EU, hopefully to get a change to the backstop, so that a majority of MPs can support the deal. That’s what I am working towards, that’s what I hope others would do the same.”
Asked if he expected Mrs May to present a specific Brexit proposal next week, Mr Mundell added: “What the PM is clearly doing is exploring with Brussels what the options are and where they stand on those various options.
“Clearly, they are very very reluctant to open up the legal text but they have indicated, from what I can gather, that there would be less reluctance to have some clarification or confirmation of the meaning of that text; confirmation, for example, that the backstop was a temporary measure.
“It’s important the options are explored, so that we can find one that can command agreement between both of us because this process isn’t about assertion and asserting what you want but reaching an agreement, which is what the PM is trying to do.”