No-deal Brexit better than staying in EU, says Hunt - GulfToday

No-deal Brexit better than staying in EU, says Hunt

Brexit-2 - new

Britain should leave the EU without a deal if the only alternative is remaining in the bloc.

Britain should leave the EU without a deal if the only alternative is remaining in the bloc, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

The foreign secretary said he would be willing to deliver a no-deal Brexit if he is prime minister because the “democratic risk” of not leaving the EU is greater than the economic damage of leaving without an agreement.

He insisted the UK would “make a success” of a no-deal outcome despite the “very significant” disruption it would cause.

Hunt is tipped as a frontrunner to succeed Theresa May as prime minister. He backed Remain in 2016 but has since emphasised the need to deliver Brexit and often sided with Eurosceptic colleagues in cabinet.

Asked if he would be willing as prime minister to take Britain out of the EU without a deal, the foreign secretary told a Westminster lunch: “If there was a binary choice between no deal or no Brexit I would choose no deal because I think the democratic risk of no Brexit ultimately is higher than the economic risk of no deal.”

He said he did not believe parliament would allow a no-deal exit, however, and added: “I would always prefer to leave with a deal because I think there would be disruption without a deal and it’s very difficult to predict exactly what that disruption would be, but it would potentially be very significant.”

He added: “But I’ve never thought that in the end we couldn’t make a success as a country of whatever circumstances we’re in.”

Hunt said the UK’s international allies believed the UK would succeed after Brexit but were worried about the “destruction of not being able to make a decision”.

He said: “As far as Brexit’s concerned, my view is very straightforward: we have to leave, we have to leave quickly, we have to leave cleanly.

“I see Brexit as the biggest democratic challenge that we’ve had in our lifetimes because the political establishment, myself included, didn’t want Brexit or vote for Brexit.

“We’ve always been telling people that we are one of the oldest and greatest democracies in the world and it’s as if people have been looking at us and saying we will test that by asking you guys to do something that you don’t want to do.

“It’s absolutely essential that we pass that test and then make a success of Brexit at the other side.”

Hunt said the true test of the success of Brexit would be “if in ten years’ time we’re able to say that the British economy has grown faster than European economies.”

The foreign secretary also condemned the leak of National Security Council discussions on the involvement of Chinese company Huawei in providing 5G data services in the UK.

The leak has infuriated government ministers and security officials and prompted calls for a formal inquiry into who was responsible.

Hunt said: “I think it is utterly appalling that that should happen, a really, really bad thing for decision-making in government.

“I have never leaked confidential cabinet discussions and I never will, so I don’t want to comment further on it.

“But I do think it is a very, very bad day for our democratic processes when that kind of thing happens.”

Asked directly if he or his team were responsible for the leak, he said simply: “No.”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s renewed push for secession from the UK faces several hurdles if her nationalist party’s dream of independence is to come true, analysts said on Thursday.

Sturgeon announced on Wednesday that she will push for a second independence referendum, to be held before May 2021, saying Scotland should have the option of staying in the European Union as a separate nation.

Sturgeon leads the left-wing, separatist Scottish National Party, which has its spring conference this weekend.

In the 2014 referendum, some 55 per cent said Scotland should not be an independent country, but the dream still burns brightly within the SNP, which runs a minority government in the devolved Scottish parliament.

Daniel Kenealy, a politics lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, said the SNP was not as united on the independence drive as it likes to present.

He said newer members energised by the 2014 referendum were keen for another plebiscite soon, convinced they will win — while a more gradualist element within the party was more cautious.

The Independent / AFP