DAVID Davis made an embarrassing gaffe he called for a “smooth” exit from the EU – then tripped up as he left the stage.
The Brexit Secretary gave a speech saying the UK was prepared for the possibility of not securing a deal with Brussels – but the focus was all on his awkward slip.
Talking about the planned transition period between the end of Article 50 and a long-term deal coming into place he argued it should be short and merely an opportunity for UK and EU businesses to "get their houses in order".
Mr Davis said: "This is not the UK staying in the EU for perpetuity. We will be a third country and we will act as one.
"We are clear this transition period will have a strict time period.
“That way we can deliver on a historic referendum result and leave the EU – but make sure the exit is done in a smooth and orderly manner."
But his own exit was far from “smooth and orderly” after he was filmed tripping over as he walked away from the podium.
Many on Twitter were quick to mock, and accuse him of creating a metaphor for how the Brexit negotiations are going.
Earlier Mr Davis had argued that despite reports of a stalemate as European leaders refuse to let them move on to the next phase he argued there had been “real and tangible progress”.
However he confirmed at the conference in London that the UK was prepared for the possibility of not securing a deal with the EU.
The Cabinet minister said: "While I have said I'm confident that we can get a deal with the European Union, of course, the alternative is possible, not probable, but it's possible, that we don't get a deal.
"The department I run, Dexeu for short, isn't called the department for getting a deal come what may, it is the Department for Exiting the European Union.
"And, whatever happens, we are leaving the European Union and delivering on the instructions of the British people.
"I don't think it would be in the interests of either side for there to be no deal. As a responsible Government it is right that we make every plan for every eventuality."
While Mr Davis said he was "unambiguously" seeking a deal, he said Britain was ready for talks to fail.
He said: "Over the past year every department across Whitehall has been working at pace covering the whole range of scenarios.
"These plans have been well developed, have been designed to provide the flexibility to respond to a negotiated agreement, as well as preparing us for the chance that we leave without a deal."
His comments came after Downing Street insisted European Court of Justice jurisdiction over EU nationals in the UK will end after the transition period.
Reports suggested a meeting of senior ministers chaired by Theresa May on Monday evening had left the door open for some continuing involvement of the Luxembourg court after Brexit.
And Immigration minister Brandon Lewis fuelled speculation the PM was preparing to make concessions to the EU's demand for ECJ oversight of citizens' rights, when he told MPs that the matter was "part of the negotiations".
But Mrs May's official spokesman said at a briefing the Government expected the ECJ's role to be unchanged during an "implementation period" of around two years following the official Brexit date in March 2019.
However he added that "post that period, the jurisdiction of the ECJ will come to an end".
Ireland could veto Brexit trade talks unless Britain promises to maintain open border
Simon Coveney said today that paying more money to Brussels will not automatically unlock trade talks, as Mrs May is hoping.
EU leaders will meet for a crunch summit next month to decide whether enough progress has been made in Brexit talks.
They said last week that "more work" needs to be done on our divorce bill, and the issue of the Northern Ireland border.
Mr Coveney told the Evening Standard that unless Britain promised to keep the border between Northern Ireland the Republic open, he could refuse permission to move talks on.
He said: "Anybody who thinks that just because the financial settlement issue gets resolved […] that somehow Ireland will have a hand put on the shoulder and be told, ‘Look, it’s time to move on.’ Well, we’re not going to move on."
He said that Ireland's position was supported in EU circles too, and that it was "hard to know" whether talks would be able to move on as planned.
"There are a lot of things that Britain aspires to, in the context of Brexit, which I don’t believe to be compatible with the realities of the situation we’re facing," he added.
A leaked EU document earlier this month called for an "all-Ireland" approach which would see Northern Ireland split off from the rest of the UK.
It said that the region may have to stay IN the EU customs union to avoid checks – which has caused fury among the DUP.
Today the party leader Arlene Foster accused the Irish Prime Minister of "playing around" with Northern Ireland and being "reckless" over Brexit.
She said: "Some people are taking their moment in the sun, to try and get the maximum in relation to the negotiations – and I understand that but you shouldn't play about with Northern Ireland particularly at a time when we're trying to bring about devolved government again."
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