Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary of the United Kingdom, has said that the negotiating strategy of his predecessor is “a shortcut to no deal.” His remarks come as the Tory war of words over Europe heightened.
Raab made the comments after David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, sent a letter to every Tory MP. He urged them to support a Canada-style free trade agreement with the European Union or experience defeat at the next General Election.
Davis says that the European Union is “ready to make that deal” after Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, repeated his offer of “Canada+++” for the United Kingdom last week.
Talking in the Commons hours after the said letter had been sent, Raab slammed back at the claim, telling Steve Baker, a former Brexit minister: “Whilst it may be theoretically possible for us to do that we can not do it and have a deal with the EU.”
He stated: “The EU are not offering us Canada, Super Canada, or an FTA, without keeping to the commitment we made when he was in Government in December to come up with a legally binding backstop, so that’s a shortcut to no deal.”
He continued: “We always said we’d be ready if that outcome is forced on us but the optimum objective we are working towards is a good deal with the EU.”
The Irish backstop provision of the European Union – which come came into play once a trade agreement was not finalised by the end of a 21-month transition period – would have Northern Ireland remain in the Single Market and customs union to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.
However, Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, has already ruled this out and offered an alternative of the whole Britain staying in the customs union but not the Single Market – a position that the European Union is against.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Tory MP and the chair of the eurosceptic European Research Group, was bullish as he dismissed the analysis of Raab of the Canada deal being a non-starter.
He stated: “Canada is just as much on the table as Chequers is as the EU has ruled out Chequers. It’s a negotiation.”
He added: “This is back to cake-and-eat-it territory, this time it’s the EU’s cake.”