Raab rejects warning over no-deal Brexit and EU nationals in UK
‘We will be in a state of emergency. Services might not be available,’ says Dominic Grieve
TV host Andrew Marr and Brexit secretary Dominic Raab: Mr Raab described reports the government was planning to stockpile food and drugs as unhelpful but did not deny them. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA
Britain’s Brexit secretary has condemned as irresponsible a warning from the European Commission about the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit on European Union nationals living in the United Kingdom. Dominic Raab said the commission was trying to ramp up pressure by warning that there were no arrangements in place for EU and British expatriates if there was no deal.
“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. There is obviously an attempt to try and ramp up the pressure,” he told the BBC.
Mr Raab, who campaigned to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum, became Brexit secretary two weeks ago after David Davis resigned in protest against the Theresa May’s Chequers proposal for a soft Brexit. He described reports that the government was planning to stockpile food and drugs as unhelpful but did not deny them.
“We’re making sure, both in the allocation of money – £3 billion extra allocated at the last budget – through operational things, like hiring extra border staff, through the legal arrangements, both domestic but also the treaty arrangements, that we’re ready for any and every eventuality,” he said.
“We will gradually and responsibly, which is the right thing for a government to do, set out more of the detail of that through technical notices. I’m not going to get drawn into the selective snippets that are leaked out and make hair-raising stories.”
Conservative MP Dominic Grieve, who is part of a group of pro-European backbench rebels, said some in his party were actively seeking a no-deal Brexit. But he warned that the consequences of such an outcome could be dramatic for millions of people living in Britain.
“We’ve got to be realistic about this. We will be in a state of emergency. Basic services that we take for granted might not be available,” he told Sky News.
“It wouldn’t be possible, for example, for someone to fly to Rome because the overflying rights over the other countries of the EU are regulated by EU law. We wouldn’t get medicines in, this point has already been made. We’d be out of the medicines agency. And, there’d be difficulties bringing food into this country because of the number of regulatory checks that would take place.”
Parliament goes into recess this week but the government is planning to publish information about contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit throughout the summer. Ms May and her cabinet will travel the country and visit European capitals during the coming weeks in an effort to win support for her Chequers plan.
Former prime minister John Major on Sunday defended the prime minister against critics within her party and suggested that a second Brexit referendum could be “morally justified” in certain circumstances. Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, told Sky News that a second Brexit vote was not his party’s policy but declined to rule it out.
“Our preference is a general election – we’ve not ruled anything out but our preference is a general election because then you discuss the issues, not just Brexit but other issues, but also you’d determine the team that’ll be able to negotiate upon it,” he said.