Britain's Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has criticised projections for a no-deal Brexit, saying the warnings amount to "hair-raising scare stories'.
Speaking after a press conference with the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, Raab said it was "unlikely" this would happen, but that contingencies would be put in place to secure the rights of EU citizens.
With less than eight months before Britain leaves the EU, talks between the EU and UK are ramping up following the EU Parliament has returned from their summer break. Unlike his predecessor to the role, David Davis, Raab’s approach to the negotiations is one that includes honesty as to the state of the negotiations- whilst highlighting the importance of pragmatism.
Raab said: "There are still gaps, we've had an honest conversation about those. But equally, on our side we feel we've shown the ambition, the energy and the pragmatism. I know how committed Michel is to securing a deal, and if we have that ambition, that pragmatism, and that energy on both sides I'm confident we can reach that agreement in October."
The unofficial deadline for Brexit negotiations is October, when the next EU summit will be held. All parties hope that this deadline will provide the EU Parliament and all EU Member states the opportunity and timing to ratify whatever deal has been struck- and thus there is an urgency to the negotiations. Speaking at the conference, Barnier and Raab reiterated their commitment to seeking a solution, saying that they would meet "regularly" as Brexit negotiations are "now entering the final stage".
For many in Britain, the threat of a “no-deal” Brexit – one where the UK leaves the EU without a defined trade relationship, and thus reverts to World Trade Organisation tariffs- is a severe one. Business owners, and those with investment interests in particular are concerned that uncertainty will lead to continued fluctuations in the value of the pound, and jeopardise any future planning. With Michel Barnier appearing to suggest yesterday that negotiations may stretch into late 2018, or perhaps even January 2019, these concerns will not have been alleviated by yesterday’s summit- despite the best efforts of the Brexit Secretary.