Breaking Up is Hard: 4 Bln Pounds Already Allocated for Leaving the EU - UK Foreign Secretary Raab

Raab suggests Boris Johnson won't reopen Brexit talks with EU until it agrees to drop backstop

Dominic Raab, the UK’s new foreign secretary, said on Monday that 4 billion pounds had already been allocated for leaving the EU and that the finance minister will set out further funds.

According to Raab, the UK will be ready to leave the bloc with or without a deal on 31 October.

"We want a good deal with EU partners and friends but that must involve the abolition of the undemocratic backstop," Raab said. "What the prime minister has instructed and the cabinet has accepted is a turbo-charging of those preparations."

He added that the "undemocratic" Irish backstop had to go from the withdrawal agreement bill.

Raab stressed that there will be no return to a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Earlier, the UK's new Prime Minister said that the Irish backstop is "undemocratic and divisive" and warned the EU that it needs to be ditched if Brussels wants to get a deal with London.

Recently, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that leaving the EU presents "a massive economic opportunity" for the UK. According to Johnson, Britain will create free ports and change tax rules to attract more investment and boost the economy.

In turn, the head of the EU's Brexit negotiation team, Michel Barnier, has earlier slammed Johnson for demanding the removal of the Irish backstop and called on European diplomats to unite against the British PM.

Johnson has taken a single-minded approach to his Cabinet reshuffle.

Johnson has picked largely from loyalist and Brexiteer stock while a total of 14 cabinet ministers; mostly long-term May Cabinet officials and Remain supporters such as Phillip Hammond and Jeremy Hunt have exited the government. The new Cabinet has reportedly had to sign a pledge to deliver Brexit in 99 days, before 31 October. ​

Raab suggests Boris Johnson won't reopen Brexit talks with EU until it agrees to drop backstop

According to TheGuardian: Before Boris Johnson became prime minister there was speculation that as soon as he took office he would be on the plane to Brussels, Paris and Berlin to open talks with EU leaders about his demands for a new Brexit deal. On Friday the German government even said Johnson had accepted an invitation to visit Angela Merkel “in the near future”.But Number 10 itself has been playing down the prospect of talks opening soon, today’s Daily Mail says Johnson has no plans to visit EU capitals this summer, and that there might be no significant talks with Brussels until the EU summit starting on 17 October, and in an interview on the Today programme this morning the new foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, all but confirmed this.

Asked if Johnson had any plans to visit EU capitals, Raab said there were a whole series of meetings coming up, but the only one he mentioned was the Gymnich, an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers at the end of August. Raab ignored a question about whether Johnson would be visiting EU capitals before that, and he implied that Johnson has not even spoken yet to Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, who is central to any decision taken by the EU in relation to the backstop. Raab then suggested that there was no point in the UK opening talks until the EU agrees to abandon the backstop. He said:

I have spoken to Simon Coveney [the Irish foreign minister] and a range of other European foreign ministers, and will continue those calls, to send the message very clearly we want a deal if there’s a deal to be done, but I don’t think you can just airbrush the fact that the last deal was defeated by the biggest margin in parliamentary history and has led to the resignation of a prime minister. It is not just going to revert to where we left off the last negotiations. There must be some change from the EU. And if the EU are not willing to move at all, we must be willing to ready to give the country some finality.

Number 10 has repeatedly said that the “change” required from the EU is the removal of the backstop from the withdrawal agreement.

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