- Reuters / Yves Herman
- UK and EU negotiators met in Brussels on Tuesday for the latest round of Brexit talks.
- The UK’s Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab dismissed reports of medicine shortfalls under a no deal Brexit as “hair-raising scare stories” which are “very far from the truth.”
- The prospect of a no-deal Brexit has become significantly more likely in recent months as crucial issues remain unresolved.
- Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, rejected claims that Brussels was being inflexible in talks:”The UK is leaving the EU, not the other way around.”
- Talks are set to continue on a weekly basis until late October, as both sides try to reach a deal.
LONDON – The UK’s Brexit Secretary has dismissed warnings that Britain may need to stockpile medicine under a no deal Brexit as “hair-raising scare stories,” as Theresa May’s government prepares to publish its plans to cope with the impact of leaving the European Union without a deal.
Responding to warnings from healthcare professionals and NHS chiefs that the UK could face medicine shortages if it crashes out of the EU in March next year, Raab said: “Some of these hair-raising scare stories are very far from the truth.”
Raab told a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday afternoon that the UK was still aiming to secure a Brexit deal but added that it was “responsible” for the government to prepare for all possible outcomes.
“On the subject of no deal, our actions speak louder than words,” he told reporters with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, standing by his side.
Raab said he “looked forward” to explaining the context of his words when the government publishes a range of documents detailing its no deal preparations on Thursday.
Barnier: ‘The UK is leaving the EU, not the other way around’
The discussions between UK and EU counterparts come as both sides ramp up preparations for the possibility of failing to secure an exit deal.
The UK is set to leave the EU in March 2019, and a number of issues in talks such as the Northern Irish border remain unresolved, meaning the prospect of a no deal exit has become significantly more likely.
Barnier dismissed suggestions that the EU has been inflexible in talks, telling reporters: “We haven’t changed our principles over 2 years – but why would we? Why would we change principles on which the EU is based?
“The UK is leaving the EU, not the other way around.”
EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier believes he can still find "common ground" between the guidelines of the EU council and the UK government's white paper despite not being willing to change principles.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 21, 2018
He also rejected the idea that Brussels would be to blame for a no deal scenario.
“To be very frank with you, I do see this blame game starting against the EU in case there is a no deal. The EU is not going to be impressed, everyone should understand that,” he said.
Brexit negotiations are set to take place on a weekly basis until the European Council’s next summit in October.
“Our actions speak louder than words. I’m out here seeing Michel again. I shall be returning next week. We are picking up the intensity of negotiations. at the political level, we need to vitalise these talks,” Raab said.