In Depth

Will new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab take a different approach with the EU?

Former lawyer heads to Brussels today for his first round of talks with chief negotiator Michel Barnier

The UK’s new Brexit secretary is heading to Brussels today for his first series of talks with the EU’s chief negotiator.

Former housing minister Dominic Raab was appointed to the role last week following the shock resignation of David Davis, who disagreed with Theresa May’s vision for a Brexit that kept the UK in the EU customs union.

“It now falls to Raab - part of the winning Leave campaign in the 2016 EU referendum - to continue negotiations with the EU’s Michel Barnier,” says the BBC. Their meeting today “comes as the European Commission is instructing other EU states to prepare for a no-deal Brexit”, the broadcaster adds.

According to The Spectator, the new Brexit secretary is “a savvy hire by No. 10 thanks to the fact Raab is a Davis ally and a dedicated Leaver”.

“It will help to send the signal that this is still a Brexit Brexiteers can get behind. Also, getting a Brexiteer to take on this job shows that the revolt against the Chequers deal is, still, relatively limited,” the newspaper says.

Raab has said in the past that he believes in “a full fat” Brexit, reports The Independent.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, he said: “What we now should all do on all sides of this chamber is not call for second referendums, not call for returning to the customs union, but get behind the Government’s plan, show some united front, so we get the very best deal for everyone in this country.”

His first challenge in pursuing that outcome will be to smooth over relations with Barnier, having accused him last year of being “unprofessional” and out to “teach” the UK a lesson.

Raab’s predecessor also had a fraught relationship with the EU negotiator. Davis “increasingly avoided press conferences with Barnier”, who used the platforms “to highlight the deficiencies in the UK’s approach”, The Guardian says.

The new Brexit Secretary’s arrival in Brussels today coincides with the publication of an EU Commission advisory document to the 27 remaining EU states that conjures images of “long queues at borders and ports, disruption to air transport and restrictions on data transfers” in the event of a breakdown in Brexit negotations, reports The Daily Telegraph.

“The document risks embarrassing Raab” with its “dire picture of the consequences for the customs, animal, health, pharmaceuticals and financial services sectors, in particular those in the City of London, which will lose access to the single market”, adds the newspaper.

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