Brexit: Dominic Raab refuses to set out government's no-deal plan – despite insisting UK would 'thrive'

New Brexit secretary condemns 'hair-raising stories' that food will be stockpiled and motorways turned into lorry parks

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Sunday 22 July 2018 18:31
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Dominic Raab on Andrew Marr refusing to answer questions

Dominic Raab has refused to set out the “no-deal Brexit” plan the government is making – despite insisting the UK would “thrive”.

The new Brexit secretary condemned “hair-raising stories” that food will be stockpiled and motorways turned into lorry parks if Britain crashes out of the EU with no agreement.

However, Mr Raab would not say what preparations are being made beyond the hiring of extra border staff, while hinting the public would be told more in the coming months.

Asked about the stockpiling of food, he said: “I’m not going to get drawn into the selective snippets that are leaked and that make hair-raising stories.”

And, on the prospect of the M26 to Dover becoming a “lorry park”, he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “If we have no deal, we will want to make sure we are prepared at the border.”

Mr Raab did suggest that – if a no-deal Brexit loomed – the UK would unilaterally guarantee the rights of the 3.2 million EU citizens living in this country.

“The prospect of us not moving swiftly to resolve their legal position – or that people would be removed from this country – is, I think farfetched, fanciful and would not happen,” he said.

On no-deal planning, he insisted: “We are ready for any and every eventuality.”

And he added: “All of that planning is under way, from every aspect of the infrastructure to the legal position to make sure we are ready for no deal and the Britain thrives.”

Mr Raab also dismissed a stark warning by the International Monetary Fund that the UK would suffer a much bigger economic hit from a no-deal departure than EU countries.

He claimed different studies had produced different forecasts, including one by the Bank of England that found it would be “worse for the EU side”.

The Brexit secretary also turned his fire on Brussels for its warning of a vacuum facing UK citizens living on the continent and EU migrants in Britain without an overall agreement.

“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,” he said.

“There is obviously an attempt to try and ramp up the pressure.”

Earlier, in an article for The Sunday Telegraph, he claimed he UK could refuse to pay its £39bn-plus divorce bill to Brussels if it does not get a trade deal.

The Brexit secretary said there had to be “conditionality” between the withdrawal agreement – including the financial settlement – and the future relationship.

“You can’t have one side fulfilling its side of the bargain and the other side not, or going slow, or failing to commit on its side.”

However, the UK has already agreed that only the outline of a trade deal will be attached to the withdrawal agreement – which will be a legal commitment the UK must abide by.

The EU has made clear that detailed trade negotiations will only get under way after Brexit departure day next March.

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