Dominic Raab has been accused of “reckless insanity” after claiming the coronavirus pandemic strengthens the case for completing Brexit at the end of the year.

The foreign secretary was urged to “urgently” extend the transition period – during which the UK remains aligned with EU trade and travel rules – to “focus 100 per cent on the emergency in front of us”.

“The last thing economy needs, on top of coronavirus, is the further shock of a hard or no-deal Brexit at end of this year,” Labour MP Ben Bradshaw pleaded.

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But Mr Raab suggested his experience of the crisis was that it “if anything” it had strengthened international collaboration, pointing to his dialogue with the Cuban government.

Such co-operation with Havana “doesn’t happen at the level of intensity it has in recent few days very often”, he argued.

Top: Nabi Younes market, Mosul

Bottom: Charles Bridge, Prague

Top: Nabi Younes market, Mosul

Bottom: Charles Bridge, Prague

Referring to the EU, Mr Raab said the crisis made “the case for intensive diplomacy to get this deal done and move on and take the relationship to the next level”.

Later, he suggested MPs calling for a longer transition of an “Ideological desire” not to cut ties with the EU.

Mr Bradshaw told The Independent: ““This is reckless insanity from the government.

“Ministers should be urgently agreeing with our EU partners an extension to the current transition period, so that government and business can focus 100 per cent on the pandemic emergency before us.

“The government has belatedly started listening to experts and following the evidence in Covid-19. It needs to do the same on Brexit.”

But Mr Raab – even as he announced advice against any foreign travel “with immediate effect” – insisted the negotiations could still succeed.

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“I don’t think delaying the Brexit negotiations would give anyone on either side of the Channel the certainty they need,” he argued.

 

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