Britains new foreign secretary said the chances of a no-deal Brexit are “increasing by the day” and called on senior EU leaders to make the European Commission strike a “sensible” trade deal.
Jeremy Hunt told the Evening Standard that the EUs approach to negotiations so far could result in a “breakdown in relations and trust between Britain and European countries” which would be a “profound geo-strategic mistake.”
“The probability of No Deal is increasing by the day until we see a change of approach from the European Commission who have this view that they just need to wait and Britain will blink. That is just a profound misunderstanding of us as a nation,” said Hunt, who became foreign secretary after Boris Johnson resigned in protest at Theresa Mays Chequers Brexit plan.
“There is real chance of No Deal by accident. Everyone is assuming, no, no, no, this will never happen. Well, actually, it could.
“France and Germany have to send a strong signal to the Commission that we need to negotiate a pragmatic and sensible outcome that protects jobs on both sides of the Channel because for every job lost in the UK, there will be jobs lost in Europe as well if Brexit goes wrong.”
Hunt was in Paris on Tuesday to meet with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian. In the Evening Standard interview, published before that meeting, Hunt said of a no-deal Brexit: “There would not just be economic consequences for the UK, there would be profound economic consequences for the rest of Europe.
“Probably the City, as the financier of European business, is the central point to make here. If it became harder for European businesses to access finance, that is far from trivial. The City itself would find a way to thrive, whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.
“If it became a low-tax, low-regulation, offshoot fully outside the EU, it would find a way to thrive in those circumstances. But for European businesses the impact would be profound.”
He added: “Ive always been someone who believed that if we ended up with No Deal we would find a way to thrive economically because we are Britain, we are that sort of country. We have solved these kinds of problems.
“What would be less easy to solve would be the breakdown in relations and trust between Britain and European countries that would happen in that situation and I think that would be a profound geo-strategic mistake. This is a time of massive uncertainty.”
Hunt has been traveling the globe pushing Mays post-Brexit agenda. On Monday, Hunt was in China promoting post-Brexit trade and his next stop is Vienna, where he will meet with Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl.