UK would regret no deal Brexit 'for generations', Jeremy Hunt warns

Written by Liz Bates on 17 August 2018 in News

The Foreign Secretary hinted that the UK could make concessions in order to reach agreement and avoid a "messy" divorce

Jeremy Hunt - Image credit: Press Association

Britain would regret crashing out of the European Union without a deal “for generations”, Jeremy Hunt has said.

The Foreign Secretary was speaking during a visit to the Netherlands, where he hinted that the UK could make concessions in order to reach agreement with the bloc and avoid a "messy" divorce.

Hunt told ITV News that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would be a "huge geo-strategic mistake", but also insisted that whatever the outcome of talks Britain would still "find a way to prosper and thrive.”

He said: “In terms of everything else that happens on the world stage and it would be a mistake that we would regret for generations if we were to have a messy ugly divorce and that’s what we all want to avoid."

Asked if the UK would be prepared to compromise its negotiating stance by retaining European environmental and social legislation, Hunt replied: "We totally understand the need to have a level playing field in any free trade agreement

"I think we have to see what their proposal was, some of those things can have an impact on the level playing field some won't.”

Jeremy Hunt’s intervention has already sparked a backlash, however, with Tory MP and Brexiteer Conor Burns branding the apparent drive to reach a Brexit deal at all costs "barmy".

He said: "The thing that we want to avoid for 'generations to come' is being locked into a permanent orbit around the EU where we end up with a deal but don't have a seat around the table.

"Many of us still believe what we have been defending for the last two years, which is the Prime Minister's line that no deal is better than a bad deal. It's nothing to be afraid of.

"They seem to be prepared to sell the reservation in the long-term to avoid disruption in the short term. It's barmy."

The warning from the Foreign Secretary came as his Cabinet colleague Greg Clark told European ministers that a ‘no deal’ scenario would inflict economic damage on families right across Europe.   

Speaking after a series of meetings with his European counterparts, the Business Secretary said: "My discussions across Europe have demonstrated how clearly it is in everyone’s interest that an agreement is reached quickly and ‘no deal’ is avoided.

"The Commission has a responsibility to all the people of Europe to respond positively and constructively.

"If not, the impact on our continent’s businesses, economies and millions of families across the UK and EU will be significant and lasting."

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