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'Chaotic' Brexit would threaten European unity for a generation, says UK foreign secretary's office

Washington: British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will once again warn that a Brexit with no deal between London and the European Union could threaten the continent's unity for a generation, according to his office.

File image of Jeremy Hunt. Reuters

File image of Jeremy Hunt. Reuters

"One of the biggest threats to European unity would be a chaotic no-deal Brexit," Hunt was to say in a speech at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, advance excerpts of the address provided by the Foreign Office reveal.

Hunt, who replaced Boris Johnson in July amid discord over how London should handle Brexit, was to say Britain would manage — "we have faced many greater challenges in our history" — but the European Union would suffer a serious blow.

"The risk of a messy divorce... 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," Hunt was to say.

A deal on Britain's divorce from the bloc — which both sides want to strike by late October, with an eye towards a formal separation on 29 March, 2019 — is still up in the air, with Brussels sticking to its red lines.

The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, refused late last month to approve British prime minister Theresa May's latest plan, which would have sought to keep a "hard" border from being established between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

"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," Hunt was to say.


Updated Date: Aug 21, 2018 08:35 AM

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