The British government responded with denials after a photo of a handwritten memo on Brexit surfaced online, showing the phrase "have cake & eat it." The notes say it is "unlikely" that the UK can keep the single market.
The partly obscured paper was photographed on Monday, while Conservative MP Mark Field was leaving the government's Brexit department. The notebook, carried by one of his aides, allegedly shows a rare glimpse into London's strategy on the EU divorce.
"Canada plus - more on services" is scribbled on the pad, likely suggesting that the UK would try to get a deal similar to the one recently concluded between Brussels and Ottawa.
Also, the memo suggests that the UK would reject the idea of a transitional deal aimed at softening the blow.
"Transitional - loathe to do it," says the note. "We need to bring negotiation to an end," adding "Keep the two years. Won't provide more detail. We think it's unlikely we'll be offered single market."
"What's the model? Have cake & eat it," another note states.
EU team 'very French'
Even five months after the British voted to leave the EU, the central government has not announced its strategy for the complicated move. London is looking for the best way to continue trade with the EU without opening its borders.
The notes photographed on Monday say that a deal on manufacturing will be "relatively straightforward."
"Services harder - because French hoping for business," is also written, while "French likely to be most difficult" and "very French negotiating team" appear lower on the page. The European Commission's top Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, formerly served as a minister of foreign affairs in France.
Notes 'do not reflect' official view
The UK officials quickly distanced themselves from the memo.
"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," a spokesman told the AFP news agency.
The Brexit department refused to comment on the purpose of Field's visit to their offices and the people he met in Downing Street.
The photo has been published only two weeks after another alleged leak, a memo claiming that London had no overall plan for Brexit. The memo, written by a consultant, also said that the government might need 30,000 extra staff to complete the negotiations.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said that the government "did not recognize the claims" made in the document.
Darko Janjevic (with AFP) /rc