EXCL Dominic Raab claims Theresa May's deputy will stop UK striking good Brexit deal
Theresa May's decision to put her right hand man on the UK's Brexit negotiating team could kill off hopes of striking a fresh deal with Brussels, Dominic Raab has warned.
The former Brexit Secretary said David Lidington lacked "the Brexiteer credentials" to persuade the EU to compromise on the Irish backstop.
Cabinet Office minister Mr Lidington, who is Mrs May's de facto deputy, will join Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay in overseeing the next round of talks.
But in an interview with The House magazine, Mr Raab - who quit as Brexit Secretary last November in protest at the Prime Minister's Brexit deal - said putting Mr Lidington in such a key role was a mistake.
He said: "The problem is that if David Lidington is leading it – and he’s one of the most brilliant ministers that we’ve got and he’s got huge diplomatic expertise – I sense there’ll be a perception, perhaps unfairly, that this is a guy who wanted us to stay in the EU ... is he really going to have the kind of Brexiteer credentials to get this deal delivered in a way that is palatable back home?
"I’m hopeful that we’ll get some compromise from the EU, but it’s probably 50/50. The problem is that if we get some substantive compromise which has to be weighed up, the risk is if you don’t have a Brexiteer leading that process, that actually we haven’t fought hard enough for it. Whether that’s fair or not, that’s probably the perception.
"There may be also a perception that they don’t have to give so much in Brussels to someone who was on the Remain campaign side and is widely seen as an advocate of the customs union option."
Mr Raab's comments reignite a feud he had with Mr Lidington when he was still in the Cabinet.
The Sun reported that the then Brexit Secretary was furious that his ministerial colleague had been sent to hold talks with the Irish government as negotiations on the inital Brexit deal reached a crunch point.
One friend of Mr Raab told the paper: "Dominic is furious. He feels he is being undermined at every turn."