Jeremy Hunt warns Vladimir Putin would 'rejoice' at a no-deal Brexit
Russian president Vladimir Putin would be the only person “rejoicing” at a no-deal Brexit, a top Cabinet minister has said.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt argued the controversial strongman stood to benefit from the geopolitical consequences of crashing out of the EU without a deal, after talks with his German counterpart.
It comes as the European Union, the UK Government and businesses ramp up planning for a no-deal scenario amid turmoil over the Brexit plan put forward by Theresa May.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly insisted that "no deal is better than a bad deal", leaving open the option of the UK leaving the bloc and reverting to World Trade Organisation terms.
But warnings about what that would mean have also stepped up a gear - with the boss of Amazon reportedly arguing it could lead to civil unrest.
In some of his first comments about Brexit since he became Foreign Secretary, Mr Hunt warned that it was opponents of the UK who would be cheered by a chaotic departure from the bloc.
“Excellent discussion with German Foreign Minister @HeikoMaas about the unintended geopolitical consequences of No Deal,” he said on Twitter. “Only person rejoicing would be Putin.”
At a press conference with Mr Maas he warned of a “a real risk of a no deal by accident” and said such a scenario would be “incredibly challenging economically”.
He added: "But in the end we would find a way not just to survive but to thrive economically. But my real concern is that it would change British public attitudes to Europe for a generation.”
It is a widely held view that Mr Putin is supportive of Brexit as it weakens the cohesion of European nations and could leave the UK isolated.
It comes after the Times reported that Amazon UK boss Doug Burr made the comments about “civil unrest” at a summit between business leaders and new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab last week.
Mr Raab has said the Government is preparing for "any and every eventuality" if the UK ends up leaving without a deal and reverting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.
A spokesperson for Theresa May this morning argued there was no evidence civil unrest would be on the cards.
They added: "We have been clear that we expect to agree a mutually beneficial deal - given all the progres we have made so far that is by far the most likely outcome."