Britain’s Brexit minister, Dominic Raab, did not mince his words on October 1. Criticising the European Union for taunting Prime Minister Theresa May and souring difficult Brexit talks, he warned that Britain cannot be bullied.
At the ruling Conservative Party’s annual conference in the city of Birmingham, May’s ministers warned the EU that they will embrace leaving without a deal if the bloc fails to show “respect” in the talks to end Britain’s membership.
“What is unthinkable is that this government, or any British government, could be bullied by the threat of some kind of economic embargo, into signing a one-sided deal against our country’s interests,” Raab said.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Raab said he had called on the EU to match the “ambition and pragmatism” Britain had put forward with May’s Chequers proposals, named after her country residence where an agreement with her ministers was hashed out in July.
“Unfortunately, that wasn’t on display in Salzburg,” he said, describing a summit last month in the Austrian city where EU leaders rejected parts of the Chequers plan.
“Our prime minister has been constructive and respectful. In return we heard jibes from senior leaders and we saw a starkly one-sided approach to negotiation.”
Meanwhile, at home – just six months before Britain is due to leave the EU in the country’s biggest shift in foreign and trade policy in more than 40 years, May faces growing criticism.
As party unity is on ministers’ minds, and they are encouraging the faithful to direct their anger at the EU rather than at their prime minister, who some eurosceptic Conservatives accuse of leading Britain towards a “Brexit in name only”.