Brexit secretary skips new round of EU talks for drinks at think tank

PUBLISHED: 15:30 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:43 16 July 2018

Dominic Raab makes a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the publication of the long-awaited White Paper on Brexit
Photo: PA

Dominic Raab makes a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the publication of the long-awaited White Paper on Brexit Photo: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

A new round of major EU meetings are taking place this week, but Britain’s new Brexit secretary Doninic Raab will not be attending.

British diplomats have confirmed that Raab will not be attending the first round of negotiations on Monday, instead choosing to speak at a summer drinks event organised by the right-wing free market think tank FREER.

The early discussions instead will be left to the civil servants.

His absence from the negotiating table mirrors the approach of his predecessor David Davis, who is said to have spent just four hours in total meeting with key EU players during his time at the Department for Exiting the European Union.

Also absent from the EU will be the new foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and his deputies, who were expected to attend the latest meeting of the foreign affairs council with other member states.

This is despite it being the first meeting held to discuss foreign policy at the EU since Hunt was appointed to his new role.

Labour said that government ministers need to “rethink” their priorities.

Jenny Chapman, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Minister, said: “Over the past week the Government’s Brexit strategy has descended into utter chaos.

“But rather than trying to repair the damage and negotiate with Brussels, the new Brexit Secretary has decided to take the evening off and attend a summer drinks reception. This is simply not good enough.”

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