“Having cake and eating” is not the official government policy in regards to Brexit, despite what was written on the paper being held by an aide to Tory vice-chair Mark Field.
Greg Clark hit back this morning at the reaction to the note and repeated Downing Street’s line that it was not written by a government official.
Speaking to Sky News the 49-year-old said a good Brexit deal was in the interests of both Britain and the EU.
When asked about the likelihood of staying in the single market he said: “The first thing that you need to do is to establish an understanding with your negotiating partners over what is in all our interests.
“It is clear that the ability for our firms – whether they are in manufacturing or in services – to continue to trade without tariffs and without bureaucracy.
“That is not only in our interests and other countries’ interests it is in the interests of the prosperity of the whole of Europe.”
Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme Mr Clark added: “I was interested and amused to see it because it doesn”t reflect any of the conversations that I”ve been part of in Downing Street.
“I don”t know what the provenance of that note is. All I can say is this is going to be a negotiation that has to be serious.
“We have to get our negotiating mandate in place but this is being done soberly and meticulously.
“It would be nice to have but it”s not the policy.”
The memo, written on an A4 notepad, suggests the implementation of Article 50, the formal process of leaving the European Union, will be “difficult”.
A Government spokesperson said: “These individual notes do not belong to a Government official or a special adviser.
“They do not reflect the Government”s position in relation to Brexit negotiations.”
The notes also referred to Michel Barnier, the Frenchman who is the European Commission’s lead Brexit negotiator.
Mr Barnier is set meet officials from the other 27 EU member states on Tuesday for a question and answer session on Brexit.
No British diplomats will attend the meeting.
Tim Farron, the pro-EU leader of the Liberal Democrats, argued the note is just the latest example of the government lacking a Brexit strategy.
He said: “If this is a strategy, it is incoherent. We can’t have our cake and eat it and there is no certainty on the single market.
“This picture shows the government doesn’t have a plan or even a clue.”