Dominic Raab: UK is 'closing in' on a Brexit deal
UK Brexit Secretary insists deal is close but preparations for a no-deal Brexit continue
Dominic Raab - PA
The UK is “closing in” on a deal with the European Union for its exit arrangements, according to UK Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.
In a statement to MPs, Raab said negotiations had intensified in recent months and had been “tough”, but that he expected an agreement by November.
“The negotiations were always bound to be tough in the final stretch. That’s all the more reason why we should hold our nerve, stay resolute and focused, and I remain confident we will reach a deal this autumn,” Raab told the Commons.
However, he also confirmed the UK had rejected an Irish border proposal from the EU which would have seen an effective customs border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and indicated earlier by DUP leader Arlene Foster.
Instead, he hinted that the whole of the UK could stay in a customs union for an interim basis until the Irish border situation if sorted out.
The UK is also stepping up preparations for crashing out of the EU without a deal, he said, “in case the EU do not match the ambition and pragmatism we have demonstrated”.
Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Lesley Laird, said Prime Minister Theresa May should have updated the house herself.
“There are 171 days remaining to get a deal with the EU, but there is no progress being made and deadline after deadline is being missed,” she said.
“Labour has always said that any Brexit deal must put jobs and the economy at its heart. It has been clear for a long time now, and was there for all to see at their Conference last week, that this Government are incapable of achieving this. For the good of the country, it’s time for them to step aside and call a General Election.”
As well as DUP threats to vote down Theresa May’s plans, former Brexit minister Steve Baker said on Tuesday that at least 40 Conservative MPs were prepared to vote against it.
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