Tory minister defies Theresa May to say a no deal Brexit would be a disaster for business

Posted On: 
4th July 2018

A Conservative minister has broken ranks with Theresa May to declare that crashing out of the EU without a Brexit deal would be "completely disastrous" for business.

Airbus has warned it may have to quit Britain over Brexit.
PA Images

Richard Harrington's remarks put him directly at odds with the Prime Minister, who has repeatedly insisted that "no deal is better than a bad deal".

Mr Harrington also said Tory colleagues who criticised companies for raising concerns about the impact of Brexit "don’t really know how business works".

ANALYSIS: Brexiteers fear a stitch-up as Theresa May's 'third way' customs plan takes shape

Tories at war as Brexiteers hit out at Theresa May's customs compromise plan

Theresa May in desperate plea for Tory unity as Brexit infighting rages

Tory splits erupt as Jacob Rees-Mogg sparks backlash over Brexit threat to Theresa May

The business minister made the comments as the Cabinet prepares for a showdown meeting at Chequers on Friday to finally agree the Government's approach to Brexit.

Mrs May has been briefing her top team on a compromise plan for Britain's future customs relationship with the EU, after they failed to reach an agreement on the two other proposals she had previously tabled.

But if her colleagues or Brussels reject the new proposals, which are set to be outlined in a Brexit white paper next week, the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal will become much more likely.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Mr Harrington said "it would be completely disastrous for business in this country" if Britainleft without securing a deal.

He added: "I perfectly understand why Airbus and other companies who have so much invested in this country and employ so many people, are responsible for hundreds of millions if not billions of pounds of exports... of course they’re worried...

"There are parts that go on Minis that have been in and out of the country seven times before being assembled on a Mini…

"And the vast majority of the products are exported to the European Union. It’s very hard to see the advantage to businesses like that of us crashing out of the European Union.”

A Downing Street spokesman said: "It remains the Prime Minister's position that no deal is better than a bad deal."