LONDON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Wednesday that the government had not yet decided what it wants from a final Brexit agreement with the European Union because it is still waiting to clear preliminary negotiations with Brussels.
“The cabinet has had general discussions about our Brexit negotiations but we haven’t had a specific mandating of an end-state position,” Hammond told lawmakers in Britain’s parliament.
He was responding to a question from a member of parliament who asked if the government had a definite position on what it wanted from Britain’s relationship with the EU after Brexit which is scheduled to happen in March 2019.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s top ministers have shown big differences over what Brexit should mean for Britain and over the extent of concessions that the country should offer in return for preferential access to the EU’s single market.
Hammond said a group of key government ministers would deal with the issue once Britain is given the green light by other EU countries that it can proceed with negotiations for a new, post-Brexit trade deal.
That green light is on hold pending an agreement from the bloc that Britain has done enough on the terms of its divorce which is stuck on differences over the future border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“We are not yet at that stage and it would have been premature to have that discussion until we reach that stage,” Hammond told parliament’s Treasury Committee.
May hopes to secure the launch of the second phase of the Brexit negotiations when she meets other EU leaders next week but she suffered a setback this week when her allies in a political party from Northern Ireland objected to proposals for post-Brexit rules for the border with Ireland. (Reporting by David Milliken and Andy Bruce; Writing by William Schomberg)