Theresa May claims a no-deal Brexit "wouldn't be the end of the world" 3 years ago

Theresa May claims a no-deal Brexit "wouldn't be the end of the world"

She downplayed her chancellor's letter last week which warned GDP could drop by as much as 10 per cent if Britain crashes out of the European Union

Theresa May has said that a no-deal Brexit “wouldn’t be the end of the world”, following Philip Hammond's warning last week that such an exit would have dire consequences for the UK economy.

Advertisement

Speaking in Cape Town on a trade visit, the prime minister offered a rebuke to her chancellor's letter last week which warned GDP could drop by as much as 10 per cent if Britain crashes out of the European Union on World Trade Organisation terms.

May said that Hammond had been highlighting "work in progress" figures released from January and the country could still make an economic success without a deal, though she admitted it “wouldn’t be a walk in the park”.

She said: “Look at what the director of the World Trade Organisation has said, about a no deal situation, that it would not be a walk in the park but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

“The Government 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 the good deal I believe we are able to get and the good deal we are working to get.”

Advertisement

May also distanced herself from cabinet office minister David Lidington's claims that talks could go beyond the October negotiation deadline, something the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier also appeared to suggest last week.

Acknowledging that legislation would need to be passed through parliament in order to meet the withdrawal date set for 19 March next year, the prime minister said that the government was working to the October deadline which “the EU originally spoke of”.

She added: “What we are doing is just sitting down, getting on with the work. We’re still working on ensuring we can get that good deal, and  in the timetable that enables us to leave on 29 March 2019 with that deal.”

The prime minister's remarks come after Philip Hammond last week faced a backlash from Brexiteers in his own party after claiming a no-deal EU withdrawal could seriously damage the UK economy and force the government to borrow up to £80 billion a year extra by 2033/34.