Appointment of 'no deal' Brexit minister 'shows UK is hurtling towards retreat'

SNP MP Stephen Gethins (North East Fife)

The appointment of a "no deal" Brexit minister is a sign that the UK is "hurtling towards retreat and isolation", MPs have heard.

SNP MP Stephen Gethins (North East Fife) told ministers the creation of the post would impact on the government's ambitions for "a global Britain".

The new minister is likely to be based in the Department for Exiting the European Union and will provide regular updates on preparations for leaving the EU without a trade deal.

Mr Gethins, speaking during Foreign Office questions, said: "An increasing number of people think that the government is handling its negotiations with the EU badly.

"Does he agree that the appointment of a no deal minister is the latest sign of the state hurtling towards retreat and isolation?"

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Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan said he did not recognise Mr Gethins' characterisation.

He said: "I am confident with all the combined efforts across Whitehall and many departments, including the Department for International Trade, that it will not dent our efforts to be champions of global Britain."

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Sir Alan added: "I've spent much of the last 18 months championing this country across Europe and elsewhere.

"I'm proud to say that the British flag flies high and with great respect in all those countries."

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