Jeremy Hunt has attacked Airbus for making “completely inappropriate” warnings about the Theresa May’s Brexit strategy
In his interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the health secretary said the government should ignore “siren voices”.
Also on this morning’s Sunday shows, Liam Fox said he would be happy with an extension to the transition period if it was needed. Lord Digby Jones said a ‘no deal’ Brexit would be a “catastrophe”. And Nia Griffith defended Jeremy Corbyn for not attending yesterday’s pro-EU march in London.
Hunt was the main guest on this morning’s shows, and he used his appearance to sound pretty Brexity.
The health secretary’s comments will not do much to dampen chat that he has one eye on the leadership. Remember he considered running to replace David Cameron in 2016 and advocated a “Norway-plus model” for the UK after it left the EU.
Airbus, which employed 14,000 people in Britain, threatened to quit the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit and demanded that any transition period if a deal is struck be longer than that currently proposed, which ends in 2020.
“I thought it was completely inappropriate for businesses to be making these kinds of threats for one very simple reason,” Hunt said this morning.
He told Marr: “We are at an absolutely critical moment in the Brexit discussions and what that means is that we need to get behind Theresa May to deliver the best possible Brexit – a clean Brexit.
“What businesses want… is clarity and certainty and the more that we undermine Theresa May the more likely we are to end up with a fudge, which would be an absolute disaster for everyone.”
Over on Sky News’ Ride on Sunday, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox also told British businesses that “no deal” off the table during Brussels negotiations would weaken the UK’s bargaining position.
But Fox told Ridge the he would not mind if the Brexit transition period was extended.
“I wouldn’t have a major problem with that as long as it was very time limited and there was a unilateral mechanism for Britain to pull out of it if we thought that we were being kept in the European Union against our will,” he said.
But he warned he did not feel the same about extending the Article 50 process itself. “I wouldn’t find that politically acceptable and I couldn’t support it,” he warned.
This morning former chancellor Lord Lawson, ex-environment secretary Owen Paterson, Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin and Sir Rocco Forte were among signatories of a letter to the prime minister urging her to issue orders to departments to accelerate planning for Britain to operate under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules if a deal cannot be done.
On BBC Radio 5′s Pienaar’s Politics, Lord Digby Jones, the former Director General of the CBI, said the “civil war” in the UK over Brexit was damaging the negotiations.
“If the whole country had come together on this right at the start, if Barnier and Berlin were presented with a united front in Britain at the start, then walking away would not have been a catastrophe,” he said.
“But if what we do is we are at civil war in Britain, which we are, and at the same time you’ve got an EU who, or should I say Germany, who are going to play this right the way down to midnight on the 29th March - why wouldn’t they, why wouldn’t they – then what you’ve got is, yes you’re right, falling off the edge will be a catastrophe.”
Yesterday tens of thousands marched through the streets of London to demand a referendum on the terms of Brexit on the second anniversary of the EU vote.
During the demonstration, crowds chanted “where’s Jeremy Corbyn”. The Labour leader’s refusal to back a second referendum has frustrated many Remainers.
Nia Griffith, the shadow defence secretary, defended Corbyn’s absence. And stuck to the party line of refusing to back a second vote. The Labour leader, she noted, has been in Jordan visiting refugees.
“Of course people in a democratic country can do what they like and have marches, and that’s good and they should express their opinions,” she said.
“But the important point is that we had a vote two years ago, the vote was for Brexit. So what we have said all along, absolutely consistently, is that we accept the result of that vote, but what we want is a Brexit that works the best way possible for the economy and for jobs. And what we’re not getting from this government is any certainty. That’s why you’ve got the likes of Airbus getting very upset.”