David Davis considered taking legal action against the EU for making no-deal plans

Adam Payne

LONDON — Brexit Secretary David Davis has written to Theresa May outlining plans to take legal action against the European Union for preparing for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

In a letter seen by the Financial Times, Davis said he had instructed government lawyers to consider legal action against damaging measures taken by the EU in its Brexit contingency planning.

He warned that actions taken by the EU were threatening UK business contracts and could force businesses based in Britain to relocate to elsewhere in Europe

In the letter to the prime minister, sent last month, Davis said he was unhappy that Brussels plans to treat Britain as a third country as soon as it leaves the EU in March 2019.

However, officials warned him that any legal challenge against the EU would be costly, time-consuming, politically-risky and probably fail.

"The EU has adopted a number of measures that put agreements or contracts at risk of being terminated in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario and/or would require UK companies to relocate to another member state," Davis wrote

"The commission had issued similar unilateral statements on company law, civil justice and private international law, transport and the breeding, transportation and protection of live animals."

Here is the letter:

Jim Pickard (@PickardJE )
Here's the leaked letter from Davis to May about the threat to British jobs from EU "no deal" preparations pic.twitter.com/EFbzu3vhzC

Davis was accused of hypocrisy given that the UK government is making its own preparations for a no-deal scenario.

"The government is implicitly threatening a no-deal scenario. It should come as no surprise that the EU is also preparing for this possibility," Pat McFadden, a Labour member of the parliamentary Brexit committee said.

Stephen Kinnock, another Labour MP on the committee, said: "His passive-aggressive tone of the letter demonstrates that the government doesn’t have a clue."

Labour MP and anti-hard Brexit campaigner, Chuka Umunna, tweeted: "David Davis laments that the EU are preparing for No Deal Brexit and the damage it would do to British business, when we are spending £3bn doing the same thing. If it is damaging to British business, why are the government even contemplating it?"

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, will give a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, where he is likely to be asked about the leaked letter.