An Irish MEP has blasted the Brexit Secretary's and International Trade Secretary's ambition to secure quick trade deals after Britain leaves the European Union as a "fantasy."

Mairead McGuinness MEP, who is also Vice President of the European Parliament, contradicted claims from David Davis and Liam Fox that nations were interested in forging post-Brexit trade agreements with Britain because it would no longer be part of a massive trading bloc like the EU.

She said that after having discussions with ambassadors from countries like Australia, it is clear that they are more interested in negotiating a trade agreement with the EU first.

The Irish MEP said it is a fantasy if the UK can form trade deals with some of the globe's biggest nations in a short period of time.

The European Parliament's Vice President said that she wants the trading bloc to maintain a favourable trading relationship with the EU post-Brexit, but she said this will not be achieved at any cost.

Only a temporary trade arrangement

The news comes as Mr. Davis confirmed yesterday that he intends to negotiate a temporary customs unions with the EU after the UK formally leaves the trading bloc. The Brexit Secretary said it will only be a temporary trade arrangement that will enable business to continue as usual while a final trade deal between both sides has been finalised.

He said that a transitional deal is in the UK's and the trading bloc's best interests, but the maximum amount of time it would be allowed to endure would be until the 2022 General Election. Mr. Davis said there was still a great deal of work to be done before Britain can finally leave the EU and that a transitional deal would provide more space to complete it all.

Britain will withdraw from the Customs Union

The Department for Exiting the EU produced a comprehensive plan for the UK's future relationship with Brussels. The paper will formally outline the transitional agreement and provides two options to withdraw Britain from the trading bloc's Customs Union completely.

The first choice would allow the Government to organise a new customs border with the EU to reduce trade barriers.

The second would provide a new customs partnership which would remove a customs border.

But the paper has already been criticised by EU negotiators. A spokesman for the European Commission acknowledged the Government's request for an implementation period and said they will discuss this proposal when sufficient progress has been made on the terms of Britain's withdrawal from Brussels.

The EU's Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, said it is not possible for the UK to trade with Brussels if it cancels its membership of the Customs Union and the Single Market. The European Parliament's lead coordinator on Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt, said the Government's proposals are pure fantasy. According to the lead negotiator, they must agree with them on citizens' rights, the divorce bill and Ireland first.

A cliff-edge for businesses and individuals

Mr. Davis said these plans are necessary to avoid a cliff-edge for businesses and individuals. He said companies require an interim period to adapt to new trading rules being implemented as Britain prepares to quit the trading bloc.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister, wrote on Twitter that the Government returned to its "have its cake and eat it" approach to Brexit. She said the UK should remain a member of the Single Market and the Customs Union if it wants to avoid disruptions to trade.

The Confederation of Business Interests welcomed this measure as a progressive step forward in the face of difficulties Whitehall officials are finding themselves in, trying to balance the need for sensible customs arrangements and freedom to form new trade deals.

The Brexit Secretary defended the Government's lack of clarity over its negotiations with the EU. He said that he understands it is difficult to read what they intend to do, but discussions require constructive ambiguity.