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UK Brexit chief says leaving with no deal better than accepting EU rules

Ten days after EU leaders told Prime Minister Theresa May that her proposed divorce terms were unacceptable, Raab accused the bloc of casting 'jibes' at Britain

AP | PTI  |  Birmingham 

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Anti-Brexit demonstrators wave EU and Union flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London (File Photo: Reuters)

Britain's minister warned the and his divided party on Monday that the country will leave the bloc without a deal rather than accept continued close adherence to its rules and obligations.

Secretary told Conservative members at the party's annual conference that if the EU tries to "lock us in via the back door" by keeping Britain in the bloc's single market or customs union, "then we will be left with no choice but to leave without a deal."

Ten days after EU leaders told that her proposed divorce terms were unacceptable, Raab accused the bloc of casting "jibes" at Britain and having a "theological approach allows no room for serious compromise."

He said that if the bloc wants a deal, "they need to get serious. And they need to do it now." Raab's combative stance toward the bloc is not universally shared among Conservatives as Britain's governing party holds its four-day gathering in the city of

Many Conservative lawmakers would rather keep close ties with the EU after Britain leaves in March. So would major business groups, who fear barriers to trade and recruiting workers could hammer the U.K. economy.

will use his own conference speech Monday to stress that the Conservatives are the party of business and economic aspiration. It's a sign of how has upended British that the party of free-market former needs to make such an assurance.

May, meanwhile, faces the mounting threat of a challenge to her leadership amid deepening opposition to her Brexit plan, which would keep Britain in the EU single market for goods while leaving it free to make its own

Advocates of "hard Brexit" argue that make the U.K. a "vassal" of the EU.

They say a clean break with the bloc would let Britain strike new trade deals around the world. Former Boris Johnson, a likely future contender for May's job, has called the prime minister's plan "preposterous" and "deranged."

On May's other flank are ministers such as Hammond, who want to retain close economic bonds with the EU after departure. Hammond on Monday called Johnson's claims about Brexit "fantasy land" and said government required more than "flamboyant statements and big announcements."

May's plan has also been rejected by EU leaders, who say it amounts to "cherry picking" benefits of membership in the bloc without the costs and responsibilities.

May is sticking to her proposal. But with Brexit day March 29 less than six months away, chances are rising that the U.K. could find itself crashing out of the bloc without a deal. The government has acknowledged that could leave lanes grounded and trucks backed up at British ports.

Raab warned that any chaos following a "no deal" Brexit would be the bloc's fault.

"Even if we can't secure a comprehensive deal with the EU, I find it hard to believe that they would, for narrow political ends, seek to punish Britain in such a crass and counterproductive way," Raab said.

He said such a move would threaten "European as well as U.K. businesses and jobs.

First Published: Mon, October 01 2018. 17:15 IST