UK’s New Brexit Secretary Deems Deal with EU Possible by October, 80% Settled
Dominic Raab, the new Brexit Secretary of the UK who succeeded David Davis, believes that Britain and the European Union are capable of achieving a Brexit deal by the October 2018 deadline set by the latter.
Dominic Raab replaced David Davis as Brexit Secretary earlier this month after the latter resigned from British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet, followed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
The high profile resignations were caused by the Cabinet’s adoption of May’s Brexit blueprint, the controversial Brexit White Paper of the British government, which has already been met with criticism by the EU.
The UK voted to leave the European Union on June 24, 2016, in a referendum with 51.9% to 48.1% for Brexit. It is set to depart from the Union on 29 March 2019.
The UK and the EU are aiming at striking a Brexit deal by October 2018 which would allow the British and European Parliaments sufficient time to vote on it.
The deal will decide the future relationship of Britain and Europe after a proposed transition period comes to an end, on December 31, 2020.
The UK’s new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, who participated in his first talks with the EU over the past week, said on Sunday that a deal with Brussels could be reached by the October deadline, as 80% of the potential withdrawal agreement had already been settled.
If the “energy, ambition and pragmatism” the UK brought to the negotiation table was reciprocated, a deal would be done in October, Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
Raab also stressed that the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier had raised questions about the British government’s exit blueprint, rather than strike it down altogether.
“The fact Michel Barnier is not blowing it out of the water but asking questions is a good, positive sign – that’s what we negotiate on,” the new UK Brexit Secretary stated.
At the same time, however, Raab made it clear that preparations for a no-deal Brexit scenario were being made, including hiring extra border staff, because “any responsible government” would make sure plans were in place in case negotiations failed.
He added that technical notices would be released for businesses and citizens affected during the summer to be “very clear about what they should do and what we are doing on their behalf”.
Raab also responded to comments by the European Commission, the EU’s chief executive, that in case of a no-deal Brexit there would be no arrangements for the EU citizens residing the UK and vice versa.
“Well, I think that’s a rather irresponsible thing to be coming from the other side. We ought to be trying to reassure citizens on the continent and also here. There is obviously an attempt to try and ramp up the pressure,” Raab declared.
In his words, the possibility that EU citizens could be expelled from Britain was “far-fetched and fanciful”, and it would be “frankly irrational” for the EU to go for the “worst case scenario” of no deal.
Yet, Raab made it clear that the UK government itself continued making “worst case scenario” preparations “so that Britain can thrive, whatever happens.”
Earlier, he suggested to the Sunday Telegraph that he was still persuading other ministers from Theresa May’s Cabinet that the government’s “pragmatic” strategy for leaving the EU was the “best plan”, and that Britain could refuse to pay its Brexit “divorce bill” to the EU worth EUR 43.6 billion (GBP 39 billion) if it did not get a trade deal.
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