LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s proposals for leaving the European Union are not perfect but they are the most credible basis for a Brexit deal, Britain’s Brexit minister Dominic Raab said on Wednesday, as he reiterated calls for the EU to compromise.
Prime Minister Theresa May pitched her so-called Chequers Brexit proposal to EU leaders in Austria on Wednesday, but European Council President Donald Tusk and other EU leaders said that Britain needed to rework its plans further.
The Chequers plan has also faced criticism from both pro-Brexit and pro-EU politicians in Britain, and while Raab admitted it had shortcomings, he said it was the only way to deliver Brexit.
“It may not be perfect, but it’s the most credible plan,” he told LBC Radio, adding that it was a binary choice between a deal based on Chequers and no deal.
He also said that for there to be compromise over a Brexit deal, the European Union also needed to shift its position.
“I think there is an understanding that we’re approaching the endpoint of these negotiations, and there will need to be some movement on the EU side,” he said.
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, and Tusk said that he would call a Brexit summit for mid-November.
Raab said he believed that a deal could be struck in the current timeframe, and ruled out delaying or suspending Article 50 — the EU treaty clause that Britain invoked to start the exit process — to buy more time.
“We won’t extend Article 50. We don’t need to extend Article 50... we’ve got enough time,” he said, adding that Britain would leave on March 29 even if it meant a “no deal” Brexit.
Asked about comments from a minister earlier in the day that no Brexit deal could make a second referendum more likely, Raab reiterated that the government would not call a second referendum, and that parliament was unlikely to ask for one.
“What he’s saying is, if we end up with no deal, the risk is that parliament, because of the arithmetic, might try and direct the government a certain way. I don’t think that’s a likely outcome,” he said.
Reporting by Alistair Smout, Editing by Kylie MacLellan and Alison Williams