UK Brexit chief pledges host of new trade deals for Britain

UK Brexit chief pledges host of new trade deals for Britain
FILE- In this Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 file photo, British Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels. Britain's top Brexit official Davis said Wednesday Jan. 24, 2018, that European Union citizens will remain free to settle in the U.K. for about two years after the country leaves the European bloc in 2019. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, FILE)

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s top Brexit official says the U.K. will be able to strike new trade deals outside the European Union as soon as it leaves the bloc next year — even though it will remain bound to EU customs and market rules for some two years after 2019.

Brexit Secretary David Davis says that during the post-2019 transition Britain will be free to negotiate and sign trade agreements, though they would not enter into force until the transition period ends.

The comments, to be made in a speech Friday, are likely to face resistance from the EU, which says Britain can’t sign new trade deals until it fully leaves the bloc.

Davis is trying to placate pro-Brexit lawmakers who accuse the government of being too timid in negotiations with Brussels.