UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has said a no-deal Brexit could push both Britain and the European Union into recession.
“A no deal outcome is bad for the UK. It’s also very bad for the European Union”, Hunt told a press conference about media freedom before the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Dinard, France today.
“None of our economies are growing fast enough to guarantee that a no-deal scenario wouldn’t push us into recession,” Hunt said. “It’s a bad outcome all around and I think the French understand that, I think the Germans understand that.”
The foreign secretary reaffirmed that the government wanted to “avoid a long extension” to Article 50, the mechanism through which a country leaves the EU.
Prime Minister Theresa May wrote to European Council president Donald Tusk today to request an extension of Article 50 until 30 June.
May is expected to travel to a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday to make the request of EU leaders, who are likely to offer an extension of up to a year, which would mean Britain fighting European Parliament (EP) elections in May.
Hunt said: “What we will say to the European Council meeting on Wednesday is that we are doing everything we can” to avoid a no-deal outcome.
“If you extend beyond April 12 you are accepting there is a possibility of having to fight EP elections. But if you are able to get the withdrawal agreement ratified before the 22 May then you might not actually have to fight them, and there is zero appetite in the UK for fighting EP elections,” Hunt said.
Hunt was speaking at a new conference about press freedom alongside high-profile lawyer Amal Clooney, who the Foreign Office announced today has been appointed as the government's special envoy on freedom for the media.