Brexit: Raab insists suspending parliament is 'perfectly proper' despite Ireland warning of no credible alternatives to backstop

Ireland's foreign minister accused UK of being 'totally unreasonable'

Kim Sengupta
Helsinki, Finland
Friday 30 August 2019 08:52
Comments
Dominic Raab says outrage of prorogation is 'nonsense'

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has insisted that it was “perfectly proper” for Boris Johnson to suspend parliament and those describing the move as a constitutional outrage were talking “nonsense”.

Asked at a conference of European Union Foreign and Defence Ministers in Helsinki whether the prorogation for six weeks was aimed at avoiding scrutiny of a hard Brexit, Mr Raab responded that the move was "actually lawful."

"We have had a couple of weeks’ parliament where we’ve talked about nothing but Brexit and we’ve got a chance to scrutinise all aspects of Brexit between now and the end of October,” he said.

On being reminded that only a few days would be left until the end of October “to scrutinise all aspects” over the possibility of Britain crashing out of the European Union, the foreign secretary maintained that “there’s going to be time before the October council, and I think it’s only something like four days less than what we would otherwise have before we’re going to leave the EU, but also we’ll be able to present to the British public all the other things we want to do like with the NHS, and that’s really important.”

But the Irish Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney, accused Britain of being “totally unreasonable” in its attitude to the negotiations and held that Mr Johnson must know that the European Union cannot accept his demands.

"Boris Johnson is outlining a very clear and firm position but it is a totally unreasonable position that the EU cannot facilitate and he must know that”, said Mr Coveney in Helsinki.

"We all want to get a deal but, at the moment, nothing credible has come from the UK government in terms of alternatives to the backstop.

"There is no country that wants a deal more than Ireland. But that deal has to be based on the Withdrawal Agreement and has to be consistent with that."

Mr Johnson has declared that the backstop must be removed for London to agree to a deal and viable alternatives were available.

Mr Coveney said: “If there are alternatives to the backstop that do the same job, well then let's hear them. And if we can work out a deal on that basis, so be it. But it's got to be credible."

"It cannot simply be this notion that we must have the backstop removed and we'll solve this problem in the future negotiations, without any credible way of doing that. That's not going to fly."

The Irish foreign minister claimed that the alternatives to the backstop being offered by the Johnson government were “vague”, adding that every time Dublin asked for more detail “the answer isn’t convincing."

"In fact, sometimes you don’t get an answer at all.”

Responding to Mr Conveney’s remarks, Britain’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “It’s just not true, we are putting forward alternatives.”

But the mood at the conference continued to be pessimistic about what may unfold.

Speaking of the prospect of a no-deal exit by the UK, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said: “I am worried because for me it is a catastrophe for each and for everyone and it is a shame for the thousands and thousands of workers and create a lot of misery inevitably”.

How could a no-deal Brexit be stopped?

Urmas Reinsalu, the Estonian Foreign Minister, insisted that Ireland would not be abandoned in pursuit of a deal and what has happened in London, he acknowledged, made a no-deal Brexit more likely.

“As a reality I would say that is the case and we have to prepare”, he stated.

Stephan Blok, the Dutch Foreign Minister, also agreed that Boris Johnson’s government and the EU have not been able to bridge the differences over the withdrawal agreement despite “serious talks” taking place in Brussels on Wednesday.

“We still hope it will be possible to avoid a no-deal Brexit and we are looking forward to any proposal from the British government that fits into the withdrawal agreement.”

But Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto expressed concern about the long-term legacy of the increasingly acrimony.

“We hope that the way this divorce will happen will not make it impossible that we have good cooperation afterwards”, he said.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in