Theresa May’s government has been branded a “shambles” after the Brexit secretary claimed a deal would be signed with the EU within 3 weeks, only to withdraw his claim hours later.
A letter published on Wednesday from Dominic Raab suggested he expected to agree a Brexit deal with the EU within just three weeks.
Raab told the Brexit select committee that a deal would be finalised by 21 November this year.
“I would be happy to give evidence to the committee when a deal is finalised, and currently expect 21 November to be suitable,” he wrote in a letter to the committee’s chairman published on Wednesday.
He said that “the end is now firmly in sight,” for a deal and added that “while obstacles remain, it cannot be beyond us to navigate them. We have resolved most of the issues and we are building up together what the future relationship should look like and making real progress.”
The pound jumped 0.6% against the dollar on the news.
However, when asked on Wednesday whether a deal would be agreed within three weeks, a spokesperson for the prime minister refused to be confirm, saying they expected a deal “this autumn” and were working to secure one “as soon as possible.”
Raab’s department was also later forced to issue a withdrawal of his comments.
A spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the European Union said on Wednesday evening: “There is no set date for the negotiations to conclude.
“The 21st November was the date offered by the Chair of the Select Committee for the Secretary of State to give evidence.”
Labour politicians branded the government a “shambles” and a “mess,” over the climbdown.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: “This must be one of the quickest u-turns in political history.
“Dominic Raab told MPs that a Brexit deal would be done by the end of November.
“Three hours later his own department was forced to correct the record. What a mess.”
The UK’s Brexit negotiation team travelled to Brussels this week for technical talks with the EU.
Talks are set to continue at a technical level for the rest of the week, sources close to both the UK and EU negotiating teams told Business Insider on Wednesday morning.
Negotiations were put on hold earlier this month after members of May’s Cabinet threatened a walkout over a provisional deal agreed by both sides.