New Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab vows to ‘intensify’ talks

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The UK’s new Brexit secretary has offered to meet Michel Barnier throughout August to “intensify” talks and “get some energy” into them.

Dominic Raab said his first meeting with the EU’s chief negotiator in Brussels had been “constructive”.

He replaced David Davis, who quit in protest at Theresa May’s trade policy.

It comes as the IMF says some EU countries will suffer significant economic damage if the UK leaves without a trade deal.

Both the UK and EU are stepping up preparations for a “no deal” Brexit.

The two sides insist it is not what they want – and that reaching a deal by the autumn is still very much on the cards.

But they have yet to agree how their final relationship will work, with key issues around cross-border trade unresolved, and the UK’s official departure date of 29 March 2019 fast approaching.

The UK government is standing by its belief that “no deal is better than a bad deal” – and is set to issue advice to businesses on how to cope with that eventuality.

The European Commission has issued a paper instructing other EU states to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Possible consequences, the paper says, include disruption to the aviation industry and goods from the UK being subject to custom checks.

According to the IMF analysis, the organisation’s first since the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016, 0.7% of the EU workforce could lose their jobs and economic growth could fall by 1.5%.

Ireland, which has the closest trade ties with the UK, would be the worst hit, according to the IMF report.

Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar has said his government is making contingency plans for “the unlikely event of a no-deal hard Brexit”.

Mr Varadkar said that – even if there is a deal – Ireland will need 1,000 new customs officers and veterinary inspectors to deal with changes in trade rules with the UK.