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Jeremy Hunt urges France, Germany to force Brussels to strike sensible Brexit deal

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-08-01 09:21
Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, file photo. [Photo/VCG]

LONDON - Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned the European Union on Tuesday that the prospect of a no-deal Brexit is increasing by the day.

The Guardian newspaper in London reported that Hunt had appealed over the heads of EU negotiators directly to France and Germany to try to force the European Commission to strike a "sensible and pragmatic" Brexit deal with Britain.

Hunt was in Paris Tuesday holding the first of a series of meetings to promote Prime Minister Theresa May's blueprint for Britain's departure from the EU.

In a stark message to Brussels, recently appointed Hunt, who succeeded Boris Johnson as Britain's Foreign Secretary, warned the EU that it must recognize Britain would not "blink" during negotiations, the Daily Telegraph in London reported.

Hunt, according to the newspaper, said the European Commission must change its approach and show a willingness to engage with Theresa May's plan for withdrawal.

Hunt said it was a "profound misunderstanding of us as a nation" to think Britain will bow to Brussels, the Telegraph commentary added.

The Telegraph said Hunt's comments came against a background of reports circulating at Westminster Tuesday that the main opposition Labour party could launch a parliamentary ambush in a bid to delay Brexit by forcing ministers to seek an extension to the Article 50 process under which Britain would leave the EU next March.

Hunt told the London Evening Standard: "The probability of no deal is increasing by the day until we see a change of approach from the European Commission, who have this view that they just need to wait and Britain will blink," he told the Evening Standard.

"France and Germany have to send a strong signal to the Commission that we need to negotiate a pragmatic and sensible outcome that protects jobs on both sides of the (English) Channel, because for every job lost in the UK, there will be jobs lost in Europe as well if Brexit goes wrong."

Hunt added that the Commission was wrong if it believed that Britain would retreat from the Chequers proposal.

The Times in London, meanwhile, warned that the European Commission's hardline approach could inflict a "breakdown in relations and trust between Britain and European countries" with serious geopolitical consequences.

Hunt, who is due in Vienna on Wednesday for more talks, has been tasked with visiting European capitals this summer to persuade his counterparts of the merits of the plan May unveiled several weeks ago at a meeting of her top ministers at her country retreat, Chequers.

Downing Street confirmed Tuesday that Prime Minister May is to hold talks with Emmanuel Macron on Friday at the French president's holiday retreat in the south of France. May and her husband Philip May are currently on a walking holiday in Europe.

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