Brexit Chief Davis Jokes About No ‘Big Bag of Money’ for Latvia

  • Davis is touring smaller EU countries U.K. wants to butter up
  • If EU like Latvia ‘we’ll have no problem at all,’ Davis says

Brexit Secretary David Davis broke the ice in Riga by joking he hadn’t brought a load of cash to lure Latvia into backing Britain’s interests in quitting the European Union.

“After the reporting in London, I feel like I should be here with a big bag of money, sadly I’m not,” Davis told reporters on Tuesday. His comments were a response to a Sunday Times report that said some senior cabinet ministers and government officials wanted to redirect foreign aid from Africa to eastern Europe to help get a better Brexit trade deal.

“I’m not the development secretary, but I didn’t recognize the story I saw in the paper this weekend, it seemed to be wholly implausible.”

The U.K. is nevertheless showering the smallest EU states with attention, not only with personal visits from Davis but a diplomatic charm offensive that includes elevating British ambassadors to Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovenia, and Slovakia to a higher status.

At a joint news conference with Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, Davis lavished praise on the Baltic country that joined the EU in 2004 and the euro a decade later. He hinted Latvia would be a potential ally in the talks, scheduled to start shortly after Britain triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by a self-imposed end of March deadline.

"We have a tremendously close relationship, Latvia has very similar views, very often we vote in the same way in the European Council and the European Union," Davis said. "We tend to be in the same place.”

The Brexit chief also gave assurances he wanted Latvian citizens to keep enjoying the same rights they currently hold after Britain leaves the EU. In praising his hosts, he also took a swipe at the rest of the EU.

“If all of the 27 are like Latvia, we’ll have no problem at all,” he said. His next destination is Lithuania.

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