Former Brexit minister and member of the European Research Group of Tory MPs Steve Baker told Mr Raab he should pursue a free trade agreement while using “pragmatic arrangements” in order to deal with the Irish border.
While the Brexit Secretary said a Canada-style approach was “theoretically possible”, he said it was not possible to do and have a deal with the EU.
He told MPs the talks with the EU have “intensified” in recent weeks and the two sides were “closing in on workable solutions” to the key issues before he urged Brussels to match the UK’s “ambitions” and “pragmatism”.
However, Labour accused Brexit Secretary Raab of “pretending that everything is going according to plan” and demanded he end the rumours the Government is not planning on publishing an Irish border backstop proposal by next week.
Labour then questioned if an “indefinite UK-wide customs union” would be part of the offer.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer also asked Mr Raab to get rid of any notion that there could be a “vague or blind Brexit”.
He added: “No Government has the right to plunge the country into chaos as a result of its own failure.
“Time is running out but there is still time to change course and I urge the Secretary of State to do so.”
Dominic Raab calls Steve Baker’s proposal on Brexit ‘a shortcut to no deal’
Dominic Raab insists that there will be no blind Brexit deal
The Brexit Secretary said there would be no “blindfold Brexit” where MPs would not be told the details of a deal and, also, “categorically” denied there would be an indefinite customs union to resolve the Irish border difficulties.
Former home secretary Amber Rudd expressed criticism of the “gung-ho approach” to no deal and warned the proper security matters are not yet in place to keep the UK safe in the event of a no deal.
Mr Baker later told the Commons: “Time and time again customs experts from a range of countries in the EU including Holland and Ireland tell us that a free trade agreement can be made to work across the Irish border using pragmatic arrangements.
“When will the Government take this key that has been handed to them, keeping us in the prison of this negotiation, and admit that we can leave into an FTA basis which will make this a proper independent country able to control its domestic regulations as fellas its tariffs so that we can lead the world into a new era of free trade.”
Sir Keir Starmer asked Dominic Raab about the possibility of a blind Brexit
Mr Raab dismissed the suggestion as a “shortcut to no deal”.
He explained that “whilst it may be theoretically possible for us to do that, we cannot do it an have a deal with the EU”.
He added: “The EU are not offering us Canada, super Canada, an FTA without keeping to the commitment that we made when he was in Government in December to come up with a legally binding backstop, so that is a shortcut to no deal and we’ve always said that we’d be ready if that outcome is forced on us, but the optimum aim here, the optimum objective that we’re working towards is a good deal with the EU.
“We couldn’t get that if we perused what he’s suggesting.”
Dominic Raab said that there was progress being made on a Brexit deal
When asked by Labour Party MP Chris Leslie about ruling out a blind Brexit, Mr Raab said: “First of all there’s no question of some kind of blindfold Brexit.
“We want to make sure in the political declaration on the future relationship that we have enough detail and enough of substance so that this House and the country at large can understand the choice of the model of economic and security cooperation that we’re going to be pursuing.”
The DUP’s Westminster leader Nigel Dodds stated his MPs “would not tolerate” any separation o Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
He also threatened to withdraw support, in a threat similar to the one made last December.
He needs to understand that as far as we’re concerned, as the Democratic Unionist Party, we will not tolerate anything that separates Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK in terms of customs or single market as we leave the EU
He said: “The idea that the sort of proposals that are floating about from the EU side, and indeed some officials on our side in Brussels, are necessary to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland is, of course, complete rubbish.
“There already is infrastructure on the border and there are already financial, fiscal and other differences because it’s an international border.
“Of course it can be managed.
“He needs to understand that as far as we’re concerned, as the Democratic Unionist Party, we will not tolerate anything that separates Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK in terms of customs or single market as we leave the EU.
Nigel Dodds threatened to pull DUP support if Norther Ireland is excluded
“We’ve been clear about that from day one.
“It’s why we had the debacle in December. Let’s not repeat that mistake.”