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Cabinet still being persuaded over Brexit – Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab Image copyright PA
Image caption Dominic Raab replaced David Davis, who quit in protest at Theresa May’s trade policy

The UK’s new Brexit secretary says he is still persuading other cabinet ministers that the government strategy for leaving the EU is the “best plan.”

Dominic Raab told the Sunday Telegraph the prime minister’s blueprint for leaving the EU was “pragmatic.”

Theresa May’s proposal for a future trade relationship with the EU sparked two cabinet resignations, including Mr Raab’s predecessor David Davis.

Mr Davis told the Sunday Express the PM should “start again” on her plan.

The UK is due to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019, but the two sides have yet to agree how trade will work between the UK and the EU afterwards.

Mrs May is hoping the government’s Brexit White Paper will allow the two sides to reach a deal on post-Brexit relations by the autumn, so the UK can avoid leaving without a deal.

The White Paper proposes close ties in some areas, such as the trade in goods, but Mrs May says it will end free movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court, and allow the UK to strike trade deals with other nations.

Critics at Westminster say it is an unworkable compromise which would leave the UK being governed by the EU in many areas, but with no say in its rules.

Mr Raab, who took over the job of leading UK negotiations to leave the EU on 9 July, acknowledges that the task of selling the government’s Brexit plan is an ongoing one.

“I want to make sure we can persuade everyone – the grassroots, voters, the parliamentary party and ministers, including in the cabinet – that we’ve got the best deal and the best plan to get the best deal,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.

Mr Raab, who campaigned for Brexit, describes the government’s proposals as “pragmatic”, claiming they are “faithful to the key promises in the referendum,” but can bring together the 52% who voted for Brexit, with the 48% who did not.

He also suggested the UK could refuse to pay its so-called divorce bill, a payment from the UK to the EU estimated to be about £39bn, if it does not get a trade deal.

He said there had to be “conditionality” under the Article 50 withdrawal agreement between settling Britain’s exit payment and creating a new relationship with the EU.

Meanwhile, Mr Davis, whose resignation from Mrs May’s top team was followed by that of former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, told the Sunday Express the government should “start again” on withdrawal plans.

He added that it was “not the end of the world” if no deal could be reached with Brussels.

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