Brexit Secretary under fire for accusing struggling firms of using Brexit as an excuse

© GettyLONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 09: Dominic Raab leaves Number 10 Downing Street after being appointed Brexit Secretary by British Prime Minster Theresa May on July 9, 2018 in London, England. Last night David Davis quit as Brexit Secretary over his opposition to Mrs May's plan for the UK's future relations with the EU. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 09: Dominic Raab leaves Number 10 Downing Street after being appointed Brexit Secretary by British Prime Minster Theresa May on July 9, 2018 in London, England. Last night David Davis quit as Brexit Secretary over his opposition to Mrs May's plan for the UK's future relations with the EU. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Dominic Raab is under pressure to apologise for accusing businesses of using Brexit as cover for their own failures.

The Brexit Secretary said it was easy for firms like John Lewis to point the finger at politicians “rather than to take responsibility for their own situation”.

Fife MP Stephen Gethins said shifting the blame onto firms is a disgrace, as he called for the Home Counties MP to say sorry for his “crass comments”.

Meanwhile, the UK Government has published another tranche of technical notices offering guidance on the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

They include a warning that Brits could be turned away from EU countries if their passport is due to expire within six months.

Michael Russell, the Constitutional Relations Secretary, said it is “appalling” that Scottish families and business travellers face the possibility of being refused entry to the continent.

Mr Raab was asked by the BBC about department store John Lewis’ references to Brexit when revealing it had seen a 99% drop in half-year profits.

He replied: “I think it’s probably rather easy at this moment in time for any business that isn’t doing rather well to point to Brexit.”

Mr Raab said economic growth and real wages were “accelerating”.

“I don’t doubt that some of the uncertainty around these negotiations will have an impact on business, that’s why we are putting all our energy into getting the good deal we want with our EU friends and partners.

“All I am just gently saying is that it’s rather easy for a business to blame Brexit and the politicians rather than take responsibility for their own situation.”

Mr Gethins, the SNP’s Europe spokesman, said: “This is yet another example of the Tories trying to making excuses for a Brexit mess of their own making.

“They think they can inflict serious damage on our economy with impunity – and then try to shift the blame onto others.”

In 2016, the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told party activists that Britain had become “too lazy and too fat” with businessmen preferring “golf on a Friday afternoon” to hard work.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said warnings the UK would not pay all of its £39 billion divorce bill were a “statement of fact”, not a threat.

He said it was “unlikely” there would be no deal but the EU could not “cherry pick” the parts of the negotiations that had gone well if that happened.

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