POLITICS
02/02/2020 14:07 GMT

Dominic Raab Says UK 'Ain’t' Following EU Rules

Foreign secretary says it is "not even in the negotiating room".

PA Wire/PA Images

Dominic Raab has said any suggestion the UK will have to follow European Union rules and laws after 2021 “just ain’t happening”.

The foreign secretary re-iterated Boris Johnson’s tough stance on the upcoming trade talks with Brussels.

The prime minister is expected use a speech in London on Monday to warn that the UK will accept no alignment and no jurisdiction from the European courts.

Raab used broadcast interviews on Sunday morning to drive the point home to European leaders that Britain would no longer be a rule-taker now Brexit had been delivered.

“We’re not going to be aligning with EU rules, that’s not on the negotiating table, it’s not even an issue of red lines – it is not even in the negotiating room,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme.

“We are entering into these negotiations with a spirit of goodwill.

“But we are just not doing that other stuff. The legislative alignment, it just ain’t happening.”

The former Brexit secretary said the Canada-style free trade deal the UK was seeking “doesn’t involve” adhering to Brussels’ standards once the transition period is over in 2021.

He accused Brussels of attempting to “shift the goalposts” since the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration was signed-off last year, after reports emerged suggesting the EU was demanding that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has a role in overseeing disputes in any trade deal with the UK.

The PM’s hardline approach secured backing from Nigel Farage, the politician many see as making Brexit possible.

And the Conservative Party leader was likely to have been buoyed by the assessment of Donald Tusk, the former European Council president, that 11 months was sufficient for striking a trade deal with the EU.

Johnson has consistently vetoed the idea of asking for an extension beyond the December 31 deadline for the discussions, despite reservations from European leaders about the lack of time available for a full-scale agreement.

Polish politician Tusk told the Marr programme: “One year is enough to finalise our negotiations.”

But the government’s rally against EU rules after Brexit saw Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster express concern that such a situation could cause a border down the Irish Sea.

As part of the Withdrawal Agreement, Johnson agreed that the six counties would continue to follow single market rules to avoid border checks along the border with Ireland.

It means, if Britain has rules that differ from Brussels post-2021, then cargo travelling into Northern Ireland from Great Britain could face inspections.

In comments made to Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme, DUP leader Ms Foster said it was “difficult to see” how checks could be avoided since ministers intended to “diverge away from single market regulations, whilst Northern Ireland remains within the single market”.

Raab – looking to allay Northern Ireland customs fears – said EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier was “wrong” to threaten checks, arguing it was “directly in conflict” the withdrawal terms.

Irish premier Leo Varadkar had his own message for Mr Johnson’s administration, calling on Britain to dial down the “rhetoric” and avoid putting down “rigid red lines” early on in the talks, which are due to start in March.

“As is always the case when it comes to negotiations, setting out so boldly such firm red lines actually makes coming to an agreement more difficult because the other party you are negotiating with doesn’t feel they got a fair deal unless those red lines get turned pink or bent in some way,” he told the BBC.