Former Brexit Secretary Raab joining UK leadership race

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Dominic Raab

LONDON — Britain's euroskeptic former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab on Saturday entered the race to succeed Theresa May as prime minister, vowing to leave the EU with or without a divorce deal.

Raab became the sixth declared candidate, joining a crowded field that is expected to expand further in the days to come.

Echoing the comments of former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who vowed to take Britain out of the EU in October with or without an agreement, Raab said Britain must be ready for either option.

"I would prefer that we leave with a deal," Raab said in a statement.

"There is still time to negotiate changes to the so-called backstop of EU laws, over which currently we would have no say."

A tearful May announced her resignation on Friday, leaving the Brexit process for exiting the European Union in limbo and raising the risk of Britain crashing out of the bloc in a few months.

Brussels refuses to re-open the Brexit agreement which May signed with the other 27 EU leaders last year.

The backstop solution is designed to keep the border open between Britain's Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland in case London and Brussels fail to sign a new trade deal.

The option is deeply unpopular in Britain because it will see Northern Ireland follow slightly different trade rules from the rest of the UK.

Raab said that "we will not be taken seriously in Brussels unless we are clear that we will walks away on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms, if the EU doesn't budge," Raab stressed.

Fervent Brexit supporters argue that following the rules of the global free trade group would not harm the UK economy if its breaks away from the EU without a deal.

But businesses call the WTO too unwieldy and fear chaos at the border and market panic if Britain end its 46-year involvement in the EU project without a firm blueprint on future ties.

Raab said that Britain must "calmly demonstrate unflinching resolve to leave when the extension to negotiations end in October — at the latest". — AFP


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