Dominic Raab hints Brexit talks will continue after UK no deal deadline

James Crisp
·3-min read
Dominic Raab is a former Brexit Secretary. - Reuters
Dominic Raab is a former Brexit Secretary. - Reuters

The Foreign Secretary has suggested that Boris Johnson will continue Brexit trade negotiations despite the Government's surprise at the "attitude" of EU leaders and his no deal deadline being missed. 

The Prime Minister will make a statement later today about whether he will carry out his threat to walk out of trade talks with the EU and prepare to trade on WTO terms from January 1.

Dominic Raab said there was a deal to be done with Brussels if the EU showed “flexibility”. He described the two sides as “close” to agreement. 

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme, "There's a deal to be done, but there needs to be flexibility on both sides, energy and goodwill and political will on both sides.”

Mr Johnson set a deadline of yesterday’s European Council summit in Brussels for a deal to be “in sight”. 

David Frost last night branded a joint summit statement by EU leaders a disappointment. The UK's chief negotiator accused the EU of dropping a commitment to intensify negotiations before the bloc’s deadline of the end of the month. 

EU leaders said the UK had to make "the necessary moves to make an agreement possible" and concede on fishing, the "level playing field" guarantees and the enforcement of the deal. They urged the European Commission to step up no deal planning. 

Rather than give in to the Prime Minister's demands for daily talks, leaders called  for negotiations to "continue" ahead of the EU deal deadline of the end of October. 

Earlier drafts of the summit conclusions had demanded "intensified negotiations" but that was watered down by European capitals before the meeting of heads of state and government. 

Michel Barnier said last night the talks would intensify, despite the summit conclusions. He said he would be in London for negotiations next week but British sources said that was to be confirmed. 

"The negotiations aren't over,” the EU’s chief negotiator said, “I shall say to David Frost we are prepared to speed up negotiations.”

Mr Raab, a former Brexit Secretary, said the Government was "surprised by the attitude and the disposition" of the leaders. 

“We’ve been told that it must be the UK that makes all of the compromises in the days ahead, that can’t be right in a negotiation, so we’re surprised by that but the prime minister will be saying more on this later today,” Mr Raab told Sky News. 

On the second day of summit talks, Ireland’s prime minister said that Mr Barnier emphasised the need for “mutual respect” when he briefed EU leaders last night.

Micheál Martin said leaders had given Mr Barnier “the necessary flexibility to continue with negotiations on behalf of the European Council to ensure a comprehensive fair and free trade deal”.    

Angela Merkel said that the EU needed the UK to "remain open to compromise". "This of course means that we too will need to make compromises,” the German Chancellor said in the early hours of the morning.  

Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg, said that the EU was waiting for Mr Johnson's statement when he arrived at the summit this morning.  

“We have fisheries and they have access to our market. The scale must be balanced. We can’t have winners and losers here," he said.

The Dutch prime minister denied the EU could have done more to convince the UK to continue negotiations after the first day of the summit ended.

Mark Rutte said he hoped Mr Johnson would renew his commitment to securing the trade deal in his statement. He said it was time to "stop talking about words like continue or intensify" and start the final rounds of negotiation.

"We want a deal. We will work until the last moment for that, but we do not want an agreement at any price," said Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister of Italy, said this morning.

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