Published On: Tue, May 14th, 2019

Furious Iain Duncan Smith LASHES out at Olly Robbins – 'Cannot negotiate out of paper bag'

Olly Robbins and his negotiating team “couldn’t negotiate their way out of a paper bag”, claimed Iain Duncan Smith. The former Tory leader lashed out at the UK’s Chief Brexit Negotiator’s trip to Brussels, arguing there is “no” point to the visit. talkRADIO host Julia Hartley-Brewer asked: “Olly Robbins, the Prime Minister’s EU negotiator, is heading to Brussels today apparently to talk about how and who long it might take to change the Political Declaration. Not the actual main text of the Withdrawal Agreement but the Political Declaration, if they are able to do so.

“Is there any point to that visit?”

The former Work and Pensions Secretary bluntly replied “no”, to which Ms Hartley-Brewer chuckled: “I’m loving these straight answers to be fair, I wish all politicians would answer this openly.”

Mr Duncan Smith continued: “I looked at that and I thought to myself this is the man that delivered the deal that we’re in at the moment.

“And I have to say I don’t have a huge amount of confidence that he or any of that negotiating team who by the way, I think couldn’t negotiate their way out of a paper bag.”

The Brexiteer MP added: “They basically seem to have gone over there and said ‘what is it you’d like us to accept?’

“I think frankly that is not negotiation.”

Mr Robbins is travelling to Brussels for talks with EU officials.

Discussions will include whether the political declaration could be changed – and how quickly – if it allowed the Government and Labour to break the impasse.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister could hold a series of “definitive votes” on a range of Brexit options if talks with Labour break down, according to insiders.

The plan would see MPs asked to rank different Brexit outcomes in order of preference and will be put into action if Mrs May and Mr Corbyn fail to reach an agreement.

Sources said Downing Street saw the definitive votes proposal as a last throw of the dice as the Government attempts to find a Brexit strategy acceptable to a majority of MPs.

A compromised deal with Labour is still the Prime Minister’s preferred option but MPs will be offered votes on alternatives if talks break down.

Mrs May is preparing to brief senior ministers on the state of the talks – which began in April – at the weekly meeting of the Cabinet in Downing Street on Tuesday.

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