Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) Dominic Raab delivers his speech outlining the government’s plans for a no-deal Brexit, in central London on August 23, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / PETER NICHOLLS
Britain’s Brexit secretary said on Thursday that London will take unilateral action and respect EU rules in some sectors to keep trade flowing if Brussels refuses to cooperate and strike a deal.
Dominic Raab insisted he was “still confident” of reaching a deal with the European Union — but is nonetheless due to set out the government’s advice about planning for a departure without an agreement.
London and Brussels are yet to reach a deal on the terms of Britain’s exit from the bloc, due to take place in March next year.
London’s proposal would keep Britain close to the EU on trade — but parts of it have been rejected by Brussels.
“I remain confident a good deal is within our sights, and that remains our top, and overriding, priority,” Raab said.
If the EU responds with the level of ambition and pragmatism, we will strike a strong deal that benefits both sides,” he told BBC radio.
“But we must be ready to consider the alternative.
“In some cases, it means taking unilateral action to maintain as much continuity as possible in the short term, in the event of no deal — irrespective of whether the EU reciprocates.”
London and Brussels hope to strike a deal by October, to allow its ratification by the European and British parliaments before the UK leaves the bloc.
The government on Thursday is publishing the first 25 in a series of around 80 technical notices advising businesses and citizens what they need to do to prepare for a no-deal scenario.
“Our overarching aim is to facilitate the smooth, continued, functioning of business, transport, infrastructure, research, aid programmes and funding streams,” said Raab.
He cited pharmaceuticals, saying Britain would recognise batch-tested medicines produced in the EU.
He said Britain already kept three months’ worth of buffer stock for more than 200 medicines and would work with the industry to stockpile a further six weeks in the “worst-case scenario”.
Raab said Britain and the EU had reached Brexit agreements on around 80 percent of issues, but the Irish border situation remained unresolved.
Britain voted to leave the EU in a June 2016 referendum and is due to exit on March 29 next year.