UK's Brexit minister says wants 'freest possible' trade with EU

David Davies, secretary of state for exiting the European Union, is seen in a still taken from video as he speaks to a committee of the House of Lords, in Westmisnter, London, Britain, in this file photo dated September 12, 2016. REUTERS/Handout/Parliament TV/Handout via REUTERS

BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - Britain will seek to maintain the freest possible trade terms with the European Union in its exit negotiations, but will insist on taking control of the country’s own affairs, the minister in charge of Brexit, David Davis, said on Sunday.

The Conservative government is using its annual party conference to end weeks of silence by setting out how it plans to start implementing the result of the June 23 EU referendum, in which Britons voted by 52-48 percent to leave the bloc.

“We want to maintain the freest possible trade between us, without betraying the instruction we have received from the British people to take back control of our own affairs,” Davis told the conference in the central English city of Birmingham.

Earlier, Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain would trigger the ‘Article 50’ legal EU exit process by the end of March next year, hoping to ease investor uncertainty over how long the process will take and when it will start.

Once triggered, Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty allows for two years of formal negotiations on the terms of Britain’s exit, with an extension possible if all parties agree.

Talking in broad terms about what sort of a deal he wanted from the negotiation, Davis said Britain would approach the talks with “goodwill” and urged his European partners to take a similar approach.

“On both sides of the Channel, we must resist the temptation to trade insults to generate cheap headlines ... These negotiations are too important for that,” Davis said.

“History shows that the easier it is for us to do business together, the better it is for both Britain and Europe.”

Reporting by William James; editing by Elizabeth Piper