U.K. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab pledged that the government will legislate to cap mobile phone roaming charges in the event of a no-deal Brexit, while he also took a swipe at businesses who are blaming the uncertainty created by the talks for their own poor performance.
Asked about high street retailer John Lewis, which has blamed falling profits on the drop in the pound plus higher inflation following the Brexit vote, Raab gave short shrift. “Its rather easy for a businesses to blame Brexit and the politicians rather than taking responsibility for their own situation,” he told the BBCs Today Program ahead of a Cabinet meeting to approve the latest batch of technical papers on no deal preparations, due to be released later today.
The 28 no-deal papers will cover a range of practical issues including passports, vehicle approvals, driving licenses and competition. They are intended to prepare businesses and citizens for the potential impact of no deal, even though the governments position is that such an outcome remains unlikely.
On mobile phone roaming charges, which are capped within the bloc by EU legislation that will cease to apply in the U.K. after Brexit, Raab pointed out that phone providers Vodafone and Three have pledged not to reintroduce charges. He said he hopes other firms would follow suit but said that in any event the technical note on mobile phone roaming will include a plan to introduce domestic legislation. “We would legislate for a limit on roaming charges to protect the economy and consumers,” he said.
On the subject of the Brexit bill in a no-deal scenario, he repeated the assertion he made last month and in a column in the Telegraph today, that the U.K. would only pay part of the financial settlement if there is no withdrawal agreement.
“Its not a threat. Its not an ultimatum. Its a statement of fact,” he said, adding that he wasnt saying anything he has not said to his opposite number Michel Barnier across the negotiating table.
He refused to be drawn on how much the bill would be in the event of no deal or what items it would contain, but he said: “Theres a very significant, substantial difference between our strict legal obligations and our negotiated settlement.”