Dominic Raab insists the UK must ‘double down’ on Brexit talks and secure a free trade deal with Brussels by the end of the year to give British business a ‘shot in the arm’ after the economic shock of coronavirus
- Dominic Raab today said UK must stick to the current timetable for talks with EU
- He said securing deal with Brussels by the end of the year would boost business
- But the government is under growing pressure to extend Brexit transition period
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
The UK must ‘double down’ on Brexit talks and secure a comprehensive trade deal with the EU by the end of the year to give businesses a vital post-coronavirus boost, Dominic Raab insisted today.
Standing in for Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions the Foreign Secretary said striking a deal on the future relationship between Britain and the bloc would give firms a ‘shot in the arm’.
His comments, which echo those given by other ministers in recent days, came as political pressure continues to grow on the government to seek an extension to the Brexit transition period because of the coronavirus crisis.
The ‘standstill’ transition period is due to expire on December 31 this year and was designed to allow the two sides to agree a trade deal.
Critics including opposition MPs believe that because of the deep recession that is expected to follow the coronavirus economic shutdown it should be extended into 2021 to avoid two potential shocks in quick succession.
But speaking in the Commons this afternoon Mr Raab insisted the UK’s position is ‘unchanged’ and the transition ceases at the end of the year.
‘There’s no intention of changing that and actually what we should do now given the uncertainty, given the problems and challenges coronavirus has highlighted for us, but also for our European friends… is to focus on removing any additional uncertainty, doing a deal by the end of the year and allowing both the UK and the European Union and all of its member states to bounce back as we come through the coronavirus’, he said.
Standing in for Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions the Foreign Secretary said striking a deal on the future relationship between Britain and the bloc would give firms a ‘shot in the arm’
He was responding to SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who insisted an extension would show common sense as he urged Mr Raab to ‘face down the hardliners’ in the Conservative Party
He was responding to SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who insisted an extension would show common sense as he urged Mr Raab to ‘face down the hardliners’ in the Conservative Party and allow everyone to ‘get on with the job’ of tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Blackford added: ‘What we should be doing is removing uncertainty and putting a stop to these talks, we should be making sure we protect our businesses. The failure by the First Secretary to rule out a no-deal Brexit should alarm us all.’
Mr Blackford highlighted warnings about damage to the global economy this year, adding: ‘Refusing to admit the inevitability of an extension isn’t a tough or a clever negotiating tactic, it’s a reckless and a foolish gamble.
‘Will the Secretary of State embrace common sense and recognise the need for a Brexit extension?
‘Show some leadership, face down the hardliners in the Tory party, extend the Brexit transition and let us all get on with the job of tackling this health crisis together.’
Mr Raab replied: ‘If his desire is to avoid more uncertainty then the right thing for us to do is to double down, get a deal by the end of this year.
‘If his desire is to dig ourselves out of the economic challenges we, the European Union and the world face, then the answer isn’t to engage in protectionism but to do this deal, give a shot in the arm to businesses on both sides of the Channel, and that is what we’re absolutely, wholeheartedly focused on doing.’
Source: Read Full Article