- Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says leaving the EU without a Brexit deal “doesn’t hold terrors” for him and the UK would do “very well” on World Trade Organisation terms.
- He was speaking hours after the government published a Brexit impact study which found a no-deal scenario would cost the UK up to 8% of GDP long-term.
- Johnson also insisted there was “no need” to return to a hard border in Ireland, and said there could be “minimal controls” at the border between north and south Ireland.
LONDON – Boris Johnson says leaving the European Union without a Brexit deal “doesn’t hold terrors” for him and the United Kingdom would do “very well” if it crashed out onto World Trade Organisation terms.
Speaking to a small audience of Telegraph subscribers on Thursday evening, the foreign secretary said: “I’ve never been one of those who is apprehensive about the so-called ‘no deal’ scenario. No deal is better than a bad deal.”
“If we have to come out on WTO terms we will be prepared to do so,” he added.
“It doesn’t hold terrors for me and we will do very well under those circumstances as well.”
If British and EU negotiators fail to thrash out a Brexit deal then the UK will default to WTO trading terms, which most economists warn would unleash an array of damaging tariff and non-tariff barriers on UK exporters.
Johnson spoke hours after the government published a previously secret Brexit impact study which found a “no deal” scenario would reduce economic growth in the UK by 8% over 15 years compared to current forecasts.
The study said a no deal outcome would lead to “high” customs barriers, “high” trade barriers, and “high” tariffs with the EU after Brexit.
Johnson also said there could be “very, very minimal controls” at the border between north and south Ireland when the UK leaves EU.
This is a contradiction of Prime Minister Theresa May’s repeated insistence that there will be no physical infrastructure on the historic border as a result of Britain leaving the single market and customs union.
The Irish border issue is politically sensitive because avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic is seen as essential to honouring the Good Friday Agreement.
Johnson said it “will be possible to have very, very minimal controls at the border” and said the issue “has understandably a great deal of political, emotional charge.”