UK Brexit Chief Pledges New Trade Deals

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.