Sajid Javid has said that he is not “frightened” at the prospect of a no-deal Brexit on October 31, as figures revealed the UK’s economy shrank for the first time since 2012.
The chancellor claimed on Friday the UK would emerge “stronger and more resilient” even if it left the EU without an agreement.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decreased by 0.2% between April and June, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said Boris Johnson’s “Brexit bungling” was “breaking the economy”.
Johnson has promised Brexit will not be delayed beyond the end of October and has not ruled out holding an election shortly after exit day.
Jeremy Corbyn has demanded the civil service move to prevent the prime minister from using a snap general election campaign to prevent MPs blocking no-deal.
Javid told Sky News today: “Throughout government we are doing everything we can to prepare for a no-deal exit. If it comes to no-deal, it is not anything I am frightened of.
“I am confident that if that is what it comes to, we will not just get through it, the UK will end up stronger and more resilient. It is something that we can deal with.”
The chancellor acknowledged some sectors, such as the food and automotive industries, would be affected but said there was still time to put in place plans to protect them.
“There is a lot of work that we can do in the time that we have got to make sure that we are better prepared and cushion them form potentially any temporary impact that it might have.”
Rob Kent Smith, head of GDP at the ONS, said: “GDP contracted in the second quarter for the first time since 2012 after robust growth in the first quarter.
“Manufacturing output fell back after a strong start to the year, with production brought forward ahead of the UK’s original departure date from the EU.
“The construction sector also weakened after a buoyant beginning to the year, while the often-dominant service sector delivered virtually no growth at all.”
It came as transport minister George Freeman told HuffPost UK that it would be an “absolute disaster” for the Conservative Party if a trade deal was not signed with the EU shortly after a no-deal exit.