United Kingdom tries to counter claims it's unprepared for Brexit talks

Home Secretary Amber Rudd

Home Secretary Amber Rudd

The joint comments by Hammond and Fox came after weeks of clashes over the UK's future outside the bloc.

The article's publication comes as the prime minister returns from holiday and ministers prepare to publish papers on Britain's Brexit plans covering the Irish border, the customs union, fisheries, and agriculture over the next 10 days.

The first three formal position papers will be published ahead of the talks at the end of the month, the department said.

However, pro-European finance minister Hammond and ardent Brexiteer trade minister Fox set out a joint position in the Sunday Telegraph that a transition period was needed when Britain leaves the European Union, but single market membership would still end and the interim period would not be used to stop Brexit.

In what seems as an effort to lessen those fears, the ministers write: "We believe a time-limited interim period will be important to further our national interest and give business greater certainty - but it can not be indefinite; it can not be a back door to staying in the European Union".

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The ministers added that once this transition period was over, "we want a permanent, treaty-based arrangement between the United Kingdom and the EU which supports the closest possible relationship with the European Union, retaining close ties of security, trade and commerce".

The two leading politicians said the government wanted to ensure "there will not be a cliff-edge when we leave the EU".

"There will not be a cliff-edge" after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, said Finance Minister Philip Hammond, who favors a softer, pro-business Brexit, and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, a hardline supporter of Brexit.

But our correspondent said their article was an attempt to "prove cabinet unity on Brexit".

Some still dispute her approach, with former foreign minister for the now-opposition Labour party David Miliband and pro-EU Conservative MP Anna Soubry warning in Sunday newspapers of the economic "self-harm" of leaving the single market.

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"We will leave the single market, because there was a vote for change on 23 June and that is what we will deliver".

"The referendum will be no excuse if the country is driven off a cliff".

Britain's Brexit Secretary David Davis is due to hold a third round of talks with the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels at the end of August.

The documents - setting out proposals for Northern Ireland and the border with Ireland, continuity on the availability of goods and confidentiality, and access to official documents after Brexit - will seek to prove the U.K.is ready for talks to advance to the next stage, he said.

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