'Brexit balance has shifted towards no-deal', Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says

The new Foreign Secretary has said that the "balance has shifted" towards a no-deal Brexit, but insisted "there's a deal to be done if the EU shows the flexibility we've shown".

Dominic Raab told ITV News that so far in the negotiations, the EU has been "pretty stubborn" and maintained an "intransigent position".

The former Tory leadership candidates comments came as the Government continues to ramp up its no-deal Brexit preparations.

"If the EU continue to stick to their position that there cannot be any change to the Withdrawal Agreement then I think the balance has shifted, we will end up leaving on WTO terms," Mr Raab said.

"But there is a deal to be done if the EU show the pragmatism and flexibility that we've shown.

"We'd like a good deal but in any event we must put an end to this paralysing uncertainty and we will leave at the end of October."

When pressed by ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt about what "flexibility" the UK Government has shown, Mr Raab instead said it had gone back to the EU over the issue of the "undemocratic backstop" and was "willing to keep talking to them and extend the arm of friendship".

The former Brexit secretary added there had been "plenty of room for pragmatism", and the UK was "not throwing away everything" as "there are bits of the Withdrawal Agreement that are serviceable, like citizens' rights".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is travelling to Scotland on Monday Credit: PA

Mr Raab's comments came as no-deal preparations were being stepped up by the Government as Boris Johnson makes his first visit to Scotland as Prime Minister.

On Sunday, Mr Johnson set up a network of top-level committees to try to ensure that Brexit takes place by the deadline of October 31.

Mr Johnson will use his visit to Scotland to announce a £300 million funding pot for communities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Speaking ahead of his visit to a military base, Mr Johnson called for a renewal of “the ties that bind our United Kingdom”.

“Our Union is the most successful political and economic union in history.

“We are a global brand and together we are safer, stronger and more prosperous,” he said.

However, in an interview with BBC Breakfast, Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay was sceptical ahead of Mr Johnson’s visit.

The SNP MSP said: “We feel that Boris Johnson is just the bluff and bluster and his premiership will just represent that, but with substantial and significant damage to the economy of the whole of the UK and Scotland.

“If we’re to have a serious conversation then he has to respect Scotland, how Scotland has voted, what our interests are, and respect what we’re saying and that is to avert Brexit, and particularly a no-deal Brexit.

“That’s the primary issue before us right now and it would do Boris Johnson as Prime Minister well to listen.

“Theresa May visited – it didn’t make much difference, she didn’t listen to the First Minister terribly much, and maybe Boris Johnson will be different but I don’t think so.”

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has said she supports Mr Johnson as PM, but not a no-deal Brexit. Credit: PA

Mr Johnson faces a tense encounter with Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson on Monday, however, after she announced that she would oppose a no-deal exit from the EU.

Mr Mackay added: “He’s even coming up to face a fight with his own party – it tells you how split that they really are.

“We have tried to compromise within the UK but even the announcements today are totally unimpressive.

“They are recycled and they’ll do nothing to shore up his position as he faces off the criticism even from the Scottish Conservatives.”

Meanwhile, the company that owns Vauxhall has said it will shut down its manufacturing plant at Ellesmere Port if Brexit makes the facility unprofitable.

Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant employs more than 1,000 people. Credit: PA

PSA chief executive Carlos Tavares said he would build future Vauxhall Astras and Opel Astras in southern Europe in the event that Britain could not achieve a satisfactory exit from the bloc.

“Frankly I would prefer to put it (the Astra car) in Ellesmere Port but if the conditions are bad and I cannot make it profitable then I have to protect the rest of the company and I will not do it,” Mr Tavares told the Financial Times.

“We have an alternative to Ellesmere Port.”

The warning comes after the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders told Mr Johnson on Friday that a no-deal Brexit was an “existential threat” to the industry.

Over the weekend, Mr Johnson set up a new structure of Government committees to try to ensure Brexit by Halloween.

The Daily Operations Committee, chaired by Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, will meet every weekday in the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms and will be responsible for overseeing all of the Government’s preparations for leaving the EU, and a possible no-deal exit.

The committee will meet for the first time on Tuesday and a Downing Street source said it was being structured in such a way so that the Treasury would be “a motor for delivering Brexit, not the anchor”.

The first Exit Strategy committee, known as XS, will be chaired by Michael Gove in the absence of Boris Johnson Credit: PA

Downing Street has also announced an Exit, Economy and Trade Committee will be chaired by the Prime Minister and meet regularly.

It will “have a broad remit and will handle write rounds”, particularly focused on Britain’s future relationships around the world.

The Exit Strategy committee, known as XS, will meet twice a week and be chaired by Mr Johnson.

XS will meet for the first time on Monday, when it will be chaired by Mr Gove in the absence of the Prime Minister.

Mr Johnson will chair the following meeting of the committee on Thursday, Downing Street said.

The Daily Telegraph, meanwhile, reported that Mr Johnson was set to launch the biggest advertising campaign since the Second World War to get Britain ready for a no-deal Brexit.

A £100 million advertising campaign will be launched to prepare the country for no-deal, according to the newspaper.

Conor Burns has welcomed the advertising campaign. Credit: Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA

Newly appointed trade minister Conor Burns welcomed the Brexit ad blitz but criticised the previous Government’s failure to adequately fund for no-deal.

He told BBC Radio 4 Westminster Hour: “It is really important that businesses that are not yet geared up, get geared up because this is hoving into reality.

“It is a very serious possibility and I just wish the previous government which was not led by Boris had got on with this a lot earlier.”

Mr Burns added: “Showing that we are aggressively preparing, showing that the Treasury Hammond gloom is behind us and the Treasury are financing the preparations for no-deal is the best way for us to approach our European partners and say, ‘look we want a deal and let’s get back round the table and let’s sort this out’.

“I just wish the previous government which was not led by Boris had got on with this a lot earlier.”

The Institute for Government (IfG) has advised Mr Johnson that a no-deal Brexit would dominate Government’s agenda “for years to come”.

The Prime Minister will need to kick-start the Government’s no-deal preparations immediately by moving thousands of public servants into operational facilities, the IfG said in a paper released on Sunday.

It added that Mr Johnson would also have to introduce legislation ensuring direct rule in Northern Ireland from October 31.

Regardless of these measures, after a no-deal Brexit the resources of the Parliament and civil service would be drained and struggling businesses would need Government support, the IfG paper said.