‘Very Real Risk’ of No-Deal Brexit ‘by Accident’, UK’s New Foreign Secretary Warns
The UK’s new Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has cautioned that the risk of a no-deal Breixt, that is, Britain leaving the EU without an agreement, is “very real”, and could happen “by accident”.
Hunt succeeded Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary of the UK after the latter resigned from British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet earlier this month, a day after Brexit Secretary David Davis did the same.
The high profile resignations were caused by the Cabinet’s adoption of May’s Brexit blueprint, the controversial Brexit White Paper of the British government, which has already been met with criticism by the EU.
On his first official visit in Germany on Monday, the new top diplomat of the UK met with his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Berlin.
Hunt emphasized that a failure to secure a Brexit deal could harm European ties for decades to come, AFP reports.
In his words, a no-deal Brexit could easily result from complacency, seemingly on part of the EU, since he referred to the need “for a real change in approach from the EU negotiators.”
“When it comes to Brexit there is now a very real risk of a Brexit no-deal by accident,” he said.
“This is because I think that many people in the EU are thinking that they just have to wait long enough and Britain will blink and that’s not going to happen,” Hunt declared.
“That would be incredibly challenging economically. Britain would find that challenging but in the end we would find a way not just to survive but to thrive economically,” he said.
“But my real concern is that it would change British public attitudes to Europe for a generation and it would lead to a fissure in relations which would be highly damaging for that great partnership that we’ve had for so many years, that has been so important in sustaining the international order,” the new Foreign Secretary of the UK argued.
His German counterpart Heiko Maas also insisted that Germany was in favor of an orderly Brexit, and retaining ties with Britain that are as close as possible after the latter left the EU.
“We, the German government, don’t want a disorderly Brexit, we want a deal,” he said.
“We know that everyone is going to have to take steps toward the other to reach an agreement,” Maas added.
“I hope that the British government and the Commission in Brussels can succeed in sealing a deal that can win a majority in the House of Commons in London but also in the European Parliament in Brussels,” he stated, while stressing that only the European Commission had the power to negotiate the terms of Brexit on behalf of the EU.
The German Foreign Minister also informed that his country and Britain would cooperate on drafting a bilateral “strategic paper” on foreign policy for the post-Brexit period to ensure as much continuity as possible.
The UK voted to leave the European Union on June 24, 2016, in a referendum with 51.9% to 48.1% for Brexit. It is set to depart from the Union on 29 March 2019.
The UK and the EU are aiming at striking a Brexit deal by October 2018 which would allow the British and European Parliaments sufficient time to vote on it.
The deal will decide the future relationship of Britain and Europe after a proposed transition period comes to an end, on December 31, 2020.
(Banner image: Flickr)