Jeremy Hunt warns of “economic tragedy” as prospect of a No Deal increases by the day

The probability of No Deal is increasing by the day, Jeremy Hunt has said in his first newspaper interview since taking over as Britain’s top diplomat.

Speaking to the Evening Standard he appealed to the European Commission to strike a “sensible” pro-jobs trade deal with Britain, saying “there is real chance of No Deal by accident”.

He stressed that such a chaotic scenario would cause job losses on both sides of the Channel and hit EU businesses by stemming the flow of finance from the City.

Provisions have been put in place by the Prime Minister in the eventuality of a No Deal, with stockpiles of medicines, medical devices and food to be put in place.

Although it is still hoped an agreement will be put in place by October, according to Hunt the likelihood of that happening is fading by the day.

He said: “The probability of No Deal is increasing by the day until we see a change of approach from the European Commission who have this view that they just need to wait and Britain will blink. That is just a profound misunderstanding of us as a nation.

“There is real chance of No Deal by accident. Everyone is assuming, no, no, no, this will never happen. Well, actually, it could.

“France and Germany have to send a strong signal to the Commission that we need to negotiate a pragmatic and sensible outcome that protects jobs on both sides of the Channel because for every job lost in the UK, there will be jobs lost in Europe as well if Brexit goes wrong.”

Hunt added that a No Deal would be an economic “tragedy” for the Continent and that it would “change British public attitudes towards Europe for a generation”.

He said: “There would not just be economic consequences for the UK, there would be profound economic consequences for the rest of Europe.

“Probably the City, as the financier of European business, is the central point to make here. If it became harder for European businesses to access finance, that is far from trivial.

“The City itself would find a way to thrive, whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations”.

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