Dominic Raab bunks off Brexit negotiations to speak at right-wing think tank

The new Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has chosen to avoid doing his job in his first round of Brexit negotiations, opting instead to speak at the radical right wing think tank FREER.

Raab has decided that civil servants can do the heavy lifting for the position has only just been given. Given that 70 per cent of people don’t trust the government to negotiate a good Brexit deal, perhaps removing the government from the negotiations altogether isn’t a bad move.

Raab has instead chosen to grace a drinks reception for FREER - an offshoot of the Institute for Economic Affairs, or IEA. As neutral as its name sounds, the IEA is widely rejected by real economists, and is funded largely by the tobacco industry to promote a radical right wing agenda that includes scrapping the Working Time directive, permitting the release of toxic chemicals from manufacturing into the environment, and axing every regulation on finance that bankers consider ‘onerous’ (read: all of them).

The shadowy institute is given the lowest possible transparency rating by Who Funds You, the think tank transparency watchdog. It was hugely influential on the Thatcher government, and remains influential with large parts of the Conservative Party.

FREER is their latest attempt to influence the policy debate, this time aimed at young people who are socially liberal, and fiscally right wing. It’s not surprising that they’ve received Raab’s endorsement. The Brexit Secretary once said that he did not believe in ‘economic and social rights’. That’s the weekend and sick pay to you and me. Elizabeth Truss is also headlining the event, so we can expect intelligent contributions all round.

Jenny Chapman, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Minister, said: “Over the past week the Government’s Brexit strategy has descended into utter chaos. But rather than trying to repair the damage and negotiate with Brussels, the new Brexit Secretary has decided to take the evening off and attend a summer drinks reception. This is simply not good enough. Dominic Raab needs to rethink his priorities.”

The Department for Exiting the European Union did not respond to our request for comment.

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