The UK is “turbo-charging” its no-deal Brexit preparations in time for 31 October, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said today.
Raab said that any deal between the UK and the EU must not include the “undemocratic” so-called Irish backstop.
The backstop proved to be the major sticking point in former Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
MPs rejected it three times, fearing the arrangement would tie the UK into a customs union with the EU for an indefinite period of time.
“We want a good deal with EU partners and friends but that must involve the abolition of the undemocratic backstop,” Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“What the Prime Minister has instructed and the cabinet has accepted is a turbo-charging of those preparations.”
It follows Michael Gove yesterday saying the government was “operating on the assumption” that the UK would leave without a deal on Halloween, the current departure date.
In comments made in the Sunday Times, Gove added that there would be “no ifs, no buts, no more delay” about quitting the bloc regardless of whether the UK has a deal or not.
Following Johnson’s election victory last week, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier indicated he would not abandon the bloc’s red lines in negotiations thus far, suggesting a backstop remains a key requirement to avoid a hard border in Ireland.
Tory MP Oliver Letwin told the Today programme that MPs “may well not be able to” to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
“Nobody can tell whether we will be able to get a majority in parliament for some way of doing something other than having a no-deal exit at the last minute,” Letwin added.
Last night the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the EU “lags behind” the UK’s no-deal Brexit preparations.
That could hurt British firms exporting to the bloc, the CBI warned.
“The combination of the EU and UK’s different approaches creates an imbalance, where EU goods and services exports will have easier access to the UK than UK goods and services exports will to the EU,” a report by the CBI stated.
The UK’s work to adopt a “more responsible” approach may actually have left it at a disadvantage, the business body argued.
Johnson is visiting Scotland today as he seeks to praise the UK’s individual countries in the run-up to Brexit.
“As we prepare for our bright future after Brexit, it’s vital we renew the ties that bind our United Kingdom,” he will say, according to Reuters.
The Conservative party’s Scottish leader, Ruth davidson, opposes a no-deal Brexit.
Main image credit: Getty