UK prime minister refutes finance minister's assessment of no-deal Brexit, says it would 'not be a disaster'

Theresa May's government last week outlined its preparations for a no-deal Brexit. British lawmakers are split on May's proposals to keep Britain close to the EU on trade — parts of which have since been rejected by Brussels.

Agence France-Presse August 28, 2018 17:53:54 IST
UK prime minister refutes finance minister's assessment of no-deal Brexit, says it would 'not be a disaster'

United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Theresa May indicated on Tuesday that a no-deal Brexit would not be a disaster for Britain, playing down warnings of serious consequences for the UK economy.

May said she was confident of striking an acceptable new deal with Brussels as Britain prepares to leave the European Union in March.

UK prime minister refutes finance ministers assessment of nodeal Brexit says it would not be a disaster

File image of Theresa May. AP

She cited the World Trade Organisation (WTO) director-general, Roberto Azevedo, as she made her case. "Look at what the director of the WTO has said," she told British media on her tour of Africa. "He said about a no-deal situation that it would not be a walk in the park but it would not be the end of the world."

Her government last week outlined its preparations for a no-deal scenario.

"What the government is doing is putting in place the preparations such that if we are in that situation we can make a success of it, just as we will make a success of a good deal I believe we are able to get and the good deal we are working to get," she said.

London and Brussels have yet to reach an agreement on the terms of Britain's exit from the bloc. British lawmakers are split on May's proposals to keep Britain close to the EU on trade — parts of which have since been rejected by Brussels. London and Brussels hope to strike a deal by October, to allow its ratification by the European and British parliaments before Britain leaves the EU.

Last week, British finance minister Philip Hammond warned a no-deal Brexit could have "large fiscal consequences" on productivity and borrowing.

Alexander Winterstein, a European Commission spokesman, said the bloc was focused on achieving Britain's "orderly withdrawal" but "preparing for all possible outcomes". "The withdrawal of the UK is going to lead to disruption regardless — with a deal or without a deal," he said.

May was asked about whether she would instruct her Conservative lawmakers to support a no-deal Brexit if her blueprint falls through. "I have said right from the beginning that no deal is better than a bad deal," she said.

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