No-deal Brexit one of ‘biggest threats to European unity’

British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt to say ‘Britain would, of course, find way to prosper’

The British government prepares to publish the first tranche of more than 70 “technical notices” designed to prepare for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

The British government prepares to publish the first tranche of more than 70 “technical notices” designed to prepare for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

 

A chaotic, no-deal Brexit would create a strategic split between Britain and its European allies that would take a generation to heal, Britain’s foreign secretary will warn on Tuesday. Jeremy Hunt will tell the US Institute of Peace in Washington that failure to reach a Brexit deal would add to the threats facing the values underpinning the post-war international order.

“One of the biggest threats to European unity would be a chaotic no-deal Brexit. Britain would, of course, find a way to prosper and we have faced many greater challenges in our history. But the risk of a messy divorce, as opposed to the friendship we seek, would be a fissure in relations between European allies that would take a generation to heal – a geostrategic error for Europe at an extremely vulnerable time in our history,” he will say. 

“So, as I have been saying to European governments, now is the time for the European Commission to engage with an open mind with the fair and constructive proposals made by the prime minister.”

Britain’s foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt: “Now is the time for the European Commission to engage with an open mind with the fair and constructive proposals made by the prime minister.” Photograph: Ilmars Znotins/AFP/Gett Images
Jeremy Hunt: “Now is the time for the European Commission to engage with an open mind with the fair and constructive proposals made by the prime minister.” Photograph: Ilmars Znotins/AFP/Gett Images

Mr Hunt faced criticism from hardline Conservative Brexiteers last week when he described a no-deal Brexit as “a mistake we would regret for generations”. He tweeted later that Britain would survive and prosper without a deal, suggesting that failure to reach an agreement would be a big mistake for Europe.

Preparation advice 

His latest remarks come as the British government prepares to publish the first tranche of more than 70 “technical notices” designed to prepare for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. The notices will include advice for businesses, citizens and public bodies on the impact of a no-deal Brexit on everything from air services to veterinary medicine. 

One notice is expected to cover the consequences of a no-deal Brexit for the Common Travel Area between Britain and the Republic. Downing Street said the advice would be “sensible, proportionate, and part of a common-sense approach to ensure stability, whatever the outcome of talks”.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Monday that EU citizens now in Britain will be allowed to continue living and working in the country even if there is no Brexit deal. Britain would make the offer unilaterally, regardless of whether the EU offers similar rights to British citizens living on the continent.

“Making an offer is not only important to provide certainty publicly, but will enable the UK government to take the moral high ground. A number of other plans are also dependent on the government’s position on this issue, relying heavily on the availability of existing labour in a ‘no deal’ scenario,” the Telegraph quoted a leaked cabinet paper as saying.