Dominic Raab has been accused of ‘misleading the public’ over no-deal Brexit and bringing the post of foreign secretary ‘into disrepute’.
Former Foreign Office minister Ben Bradshaw has written to the foreign secretary calling on him to apologise for remarks on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this week.
He said Raab had claimed the prospect of a no-deal exit from the European Union was “widely discussed and considered a realistic prospect during the 2016 EU referendum”.
Bradshaw said the claim there is a mandate for a no-deal Brexit is “deeply dishonest and demeans the office of foreign secretary”, given most prominent Brexiteers talked about getting a deal during the campaign.
The Foreign Office said Raab has given “tangible examples” of when all eventualities, including a no-deal Brexit, were raised in the run-up to the referendum.
In the letter, Bradshaw told Raab: “Your pronouncements since taking the job just a few days ago risk bringing this great office of state into disrepute.
“I was astonished to hear you claim on the BBC’s Today programme on Monday 29 July that the prospect of a no-deal exit from the European Union was widely discussed and considered a realistic prospect during the 2016 EU referendum.
“You must know this is simply not true.
“There appears to be no evidence at all of you ever suggesting that leaving the EU without a deal was a likely or possible outcome.
“Indeed, whenever the question was put to you, you suggested the opposite – you claimed that a new, better deal would be negotiated with the EU if people voted to leave.
“You said the UK would of course retain a strong trading relationship with Europe and would likely get a bespoke deal, and stated, ‘the idea that Britain would be apocalyptically off the cliff edge if we left the EU is silly’.
“This is not a subject for debate, it is a matter of public record.
“For you to now try and claim a democratic mandate for no deal, despite failing to discuss the possibility of such an outcome during the referendum, is deeply dishonest and demeans the office of foreign secretary.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The foreign secretary has given tangible examples of when all eventualities, including a no-deal Brexit, were raised in the run-up to the referendum in 2016.”
Bradshaw called on Mr Raab to “apologise for misleading the public” and to “agree there is no mandate for no deal”.
Labour MP Ian Murray, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “Dominic Raab is continuing the example set by the new prime minister of flatly misleading the public when he claims no deal was discussed as a realistic outcome by Leave campaigners including himself during the 2016 referendum.
“It is an insult to the great office of British foreign secretary that he holds to twist the truth in this way, and he must be held to account.
“When he appears before the Foreign Affairs Committee on which I sit, I will be asking him about this issue in detail.”