We’ll be out of the EU by December 2018, says new Brexit Secretary David Davis as he calls for ‘brisk’ approach to negotiations so Britain can start enjoying the economic benefits of cutting ties with Brussels

Britain should be out of the EU in around two years, the new Brexit Secretary David Davis has said.

The long-time Eurosceptic, who Theresa May appointed to be in charge of negotiating Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, said he wanted a ‘brisk but measured approach to Brexit’.

He wants to strike new trade deals with countries swiftly so Britain can enjoy the ‘economic benefits of Brexit’ before the UK officially cuts ties with Brussels.

Mr Davis, whose official job title is Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – a new department – set out his broad vision for the withdrawal process in an article for ConservativeHome website earlier this week.

In an ideal world Britain would conclude consultations and battle plans ‘in the next few months’ before triggering Article 50 – the formal EU rules that set out the process for leaving the EU – before the end of this year.

Given the time limit for concluding negotiations with the EU is two years, this means Britain would be out of the Brussels club by the end of December 2018.

But he wants Britain to start negotiating trade deals with non-EU countries immediately.

‘This means that some of the economic benefits of Brexit will materialise even before the probable formal departure from the EU around December 2018,’ he wrote.

Mr Davies, 67, outlined his vision for the Brexit negotiations before landing the key Cabinet role by Mrs May last night.

He wants all the money Britain currently pays to the EU diverted to spending in the UK, with funds being poured into agriculture, research grants and regional funding.

Outlining his vision for Brexit negotiations, Mr Davis said in the article: ‘We need to take a brisk but measured approach to Brexit.

‘This would involve concluding consultations and laying out the detailed plans in the next few months.’

Mr Davis’s appointment as Brexit Secretary was a dream come true for the former Europe minister who delighted in the nickname of ‘Monsieur Non

David Davis, the new Brexit minister

Theresa May, Britain's new PM

The long-time Eurosceptic David Davis (pictured left outside No 10 last night) who Theresa May (pictured right arriving at Downing Street this morning) appointed to be in charge of negotiating Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, said he wanted a ‘brisk but measured approach to Brexit’

A long-standing Eurosceptic, his Cabinet posting ends a spell in the political wilderness after he walked out of David Cameron’s front bench on a point of principle.

Intriguingly, Theresa May’s decision to put him in her top team comes despite Mr Davis pursuing legal action in the European courts against surveillance laws she introduced.

The Tory MP joined forces with Labour deputy leader Tom Watson to jointly challenge the legality of the Government’s Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014.

As Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union he will be keen to play hardball in the negotiations to take Britain out of the bloc.

Mr Davis gained a fearsome reputation after taking a series of ministerial scalps in the role of Shadow Home Secretary.

Among those he claims as his victims are former home secretaries David Blunkett and Charles Clarke and ex-home office minister Beverley Hughes.

He was regarded by many as the likely next Tory leader after Michael Howard announced he was to resign, but after a weak campaign – in his second tilt at the leadership – he was soundly beaten.

His rival, David Cameron, had caught the mood with his careful presentation and youthful optimism.

On the 42-day detention issue, Mr Davis had to persuade Mr Cameron and George Osborne that the party should be firmly on the side of civil liberties.

In June 2008 he shocked Westminster by announcing that he was resigning as an MP to ‘take a stand’ against the terror detention plan, sparking a by-election that saw him hold his Haltemprice and Howden seat.

A libertarian who was never afraid to speak his mind, even if his opinions fell outside the party line, he worked closely with former Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti.

His friendship with former Downing Street spin chief Alastair Campbell raised Conservative eyebrows.

Mr Davis once revealed that he offered to buy Mr Campbell’s old newspaper the Daily Mirror so the former journalist could edit it.

He put their unlikely friendship down to his liking for ‘strong mavericks’ and there is something of that description in him.

His upbringing was far from that of a typical Tory MP. Brought up on a south London council estate by his single mother, he shone at grammar school and got an Army scholarship to Warwick University, hence his membership of the Territorial SAS.

As a part-time member of the SAS, he has broken his nose no fewer than five times.

He also studied at Harvard before starting a successful business career at Tate and Lyle. His background, supporters argued during his Tory leadership campaign in 2005, made him ideal to win back the working-class voters who had deserted his party for new Labour.

Despite Eurosceptic views, he acted as a whip for John Major during the bruising battle to ratify the Maastricht Treaty.

In the 2001 leadership contest Mr Davis cut his losses and quit after twice finishing way down the pack in early ballots of Tory MPs, throwing his support behind Iain Duncan Smith.

The contest successfully raised his profile and Mr Duncan Smith appointed him party chairman.

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