Britain will step up trade negotiations with the US and others before Brexit deadline, Dominic Raab warns EU
- Dominic Raab will fly to Washington to pave the way for a trade deal with the US
- He warned the European Union: ‘Brussels isn’t the only game in town’
- He said it will be Brussels’ fault if Britain crashes out of the EU with no deal
- Boris Johnson has already spoken on the phone with US President Donald Trump
The new Foreign Secretary has warned the EU that Britain will step up trade negotiations with the US and others before the October deadline.
Dominic Raab said he will fly to Washington in the coming weeks to ‘pave and clear’ the way for a trade deal with President Trump.
In an interview with the Times, he said: ‘We want a strong relationship with our European friends and partners.. but we also want to raise our horizons.
Dominic Raab, pictured leaving Downing Street after being appointed Foreign Secretary has warned Brussels that they will be blamed if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal
Raab said: ‘Brussels isn’t the only game in town.’ He said Britain would strike a trade deal with US President Donald Trump, pictured here in the Oval Office
‘Brussels isn’t the only game in town.’
Talks with rival trade partners is a breach of the ‘principle of sincere co-operation’ that is supposed to bind those countries in negotiation with the bloc.
Mr Raab, who is also Mr Johnson’s deputy, said it would be the EU’s choice ‘if we’ve left on WTO terms’ on October 31.
‘We are making it clear there’s a deal to be done, but the EU needs to move,’ he said.
He added: ‘It would be totally unrealistic – an ivory tower perspective – to think that after a deal that has failed at least three times in the Commons, which has precipitated the resignation of the prime minister and leadership contest, which has been based around this issue, that somehow we’re going to airbrush all that aside and that there would go back to the previous deal.’
Asked whether the abolition of the Irish backstop is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a new deal, he said: ‘I think that’s right.’
He said the backstop is ‘most obvious glaring flaw in the deal…but there are other issues. What I’m not going to do at this particularly sensitive moment is put all of the conversations that we’re going to have on this in the public domain’.
Mr Raab also said the previous government had spent too long saying it would extend which resulted in ‘telegraphing weakness and the wrong signals to Brussels’.
He added: ‘And I think they ought to have a very clear signal right across all the key players in the cabinet that we’re serious about this. But I also said equally in the same breath that we didn’t think it was necessary, likely or desirable.’
He said he had spoken to Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State in his first two days in the job.
He said: ‘I explained how pleased we were to have a US administration, including the president, speaking so warmly about this country.
‘We’ve got a president who has spoken about this country with the kind of warmth we haven’t heard for quite a long period of time. Now people will have their views and it’s quite right that in domestic politics, pundits and politicians are [free to] express them about any leader. But I’m delighted that we’ve got a US president talking about this country with such warmth.’
Last night prime minister Boris Johnson spoke to Donald Trump, who congratulated him on his new role.
The pair said Brexit offered an ‘unparalleled opportunity’ to boost economic ties between the two nations.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: ‘They discussed the important relationship between our countries and the President’s successful State Visit to the UK last month.
‘They agreed that Brexit offers an unparalleled opportunity to strengthen the economic partnership between the UK and United States.
‘The leaders both expressed their commitment to delivering an ambitious free trade agreement and to starting negotiations as soon as possible after the UK leaves the EU.
‘The Prime Minister and the President also discussed the current tensions with Iran and the need to work together and with partners to address their destabilising behaviour in the Gulf.’ They ended the call by saying they looked forward to seeing each other at the G7 Summit in Biarritz next month.