Dominic Raab called stockpiling fears “scare stories” as he made a speech in Brussels following Brexit negotiations with Michel Barnier.
When a member of the press said ‘people didn’t vote for a shortage of medicines’ during the Q&A section of Raab and Barnier’s press conference, the Brexit secretary replied:
“As you will see when we set out our plans, some of these hair-raising scare stories are very far from the truth and I look forward to explaining the context on Thursday.
“The aim over the next few days is getting the best deal for the UK and the EU.”
'Negotiations must be stepped up'
Watch Dominic Raab's opening speech above
Both said that negotiations needed to be stepped up over the coming months, and that a solution to the border issue in Ireland had not yet been reached.
“Dominic and I focused on what needs to be done in three work streams - number one a backstop solution for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland,” said Barnier.
- Read more: Stockpiling: What will happen to goods and trade after Brexit?
- Read more: What is the customs union?
“Two, the other outstanding issues of the withdrawal agreement, like the protection of existing geographical indications amongst others.
“Three, the political declaration on our future relationship.”
He added that the outcome had to “respect the single market”.
“The negotiations are entering this final stage. We have agreed the UK and EU will negotiate continuously from now on,” he said.
“Our challenge for the coming weeks is to try and define an ambitious partnership for the UK and EU. It has to respect the single market and the foundations of the European project.”
Irish Border and future relationship 'significant issues'
Raab said the discussions so far had been “positive” but called the Northern Irish border issue, and the terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, “significant issues to overcome”.
“We feel we’ve shown the ambition, energy and pragmatism, and I know how committed Michel is to securing a deal, and if we have that ambition, pragmatism on both sides, I’m confident we can reach a deal in October,” he said.
When asked by Sky News correspondent Mark Stone about the prospect of no deal, Raab responded: “Our actions speak louder than words. I’m here seeing Michel again, I shall be returning next week. We’ll be picking up the intensity of the negotiations.
“We need to get out of technical discussion and into political resolution, but of course the responsible thing for any government to do is make sure we’re prepared for all eventualities from the negotiations.”
Another reporter asked if there was a possibility of “revising the process” of leaving to save the UK from a no-deal brexit.
“Certainly on the UK side, no, we will be leaving in March next year,” Raab answered.
As the pair shook hands at the end, a voice could be heard shouting: “Do you miss Mr [David] Davis?”
Barnier replied: “I’m happy to work with Dominic”.