The U.K.’s new foreign secretary said there’s a Brexit deal to be done, but “the EU needs to move” to make it happen.
Speaking to the Times, Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary promoted to one of the top Cabinet jobs by Boris Johnson, said he had been speaking to EU capitals but had also spoken to Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state.
“I explained how pleased we were to have a U.S. administration, including the president, speaking so warmly about this country,” he said of his call with Pompeo.
“We’ve got a president who has spoken about this country with the kind of warmth we haven’t heard for quite a long period of time. Now people will have their views and it’s quite right that in domestic politics, pundits and politicians are [free to] express them about any leader. But I’m delighted that we’ve got a U.S. president talking about this country with such warmth.”
Donald Trump and Johnson spoke on Friday evening, with the president saying: “We’re working already on a trade agreement. And I think it’ll be a very substantial trade agreement, you know we can do with the U.K., we can do three to four times, we were actually impeded by their relationship with the European Union.”
Raab told the Times that “Brussels isn’t the only game in town. We want a strong relationship with our European friends and partners. I prize that relationship. My father came from Czechoslovakia. I understand the historic context of our relationship and I feel very warmly about it. But we also want to raise our horizons.”
He also backed Johnson’s line that the Irish backstop plan, a key pillar of Theresa May’s Brexit agreement, has to be ditched, calling it “most obvious glaring flaw in the deal . . . but there are other issues. What I’m not going to do at this particularly sensitive moment is put all of the conversations that we’re going to have on this in the public domain.”