Former Brexit secretary says EU using Irish backstop to 'lock us into their laws'
A former Brexit secretary has accused the European Union of behaving dishonourably in negotiations and using the Irish border issue to try to lock the UK into their laws.
Dominic Raab told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think if the EU want to extend the flexibility and pragmatism that we've shown this deal is there to be done, but of course they're trying to drag us into deep waters.
"(Tory former minister) George Eustice referred to frankly the dishonourable way that they've tried to bully us and shove us around and it's time for us to stand up as a Government and as a country."
He continued: "It's very clear that they've used the Northern Ireland protocol and backstop as a means of trying to press on the sensitive issue of Northern Ireland and with all the sensitivities around that, in order effectively to try and lock us into a range of their laws, really just to undercut our competitive market.
"I've got no problem with the EU negotiating to protect their interests and I think in fairness the Prime Minister has bent over backwards to try and satisfy and respect the equities on the EU side.
"But I think trying to use Northern Ireland - given the history of that conflict, given the secessionist tendencies in other European countries - in order to put pressure on us in the way that they have, no, I don't think that's right.
"Frankly I don't think its right from the point of view of European unity and solidarity."
Mr Raab warned that a delay to Brexit would reduce the chance of securing a deal with the EU.
"The issue with delay is at this point in time it weakens our leverage - why would the EU make concessions now? The chances of a deal get that bit slimmer because they are less likely to compromise," he told Today.
"I'm strongly against any delay, and I think from the EU's point of view it signals to them that actually their intransigence pays off and that's the wrong message for the UK to be sending to Brussels at this moment."
But Mr Raab said he was "open minded" about a short delay of a couple of weeks to get the necessary legislation through.
He reiterated his call for substantial changes to the Withdrawal Agreement, though he said the "technical device" for making the changes to the backstop was "second order".