UK's Hunt says confident May will seal deal for Brexit

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt speaks during the 34th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Fullerton Lecture in Singapore, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)
Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt speaks during the 34th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Fullerton Lecture in Singapore, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)
Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt waits to deliver his speech during the 34th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Fullerton Lecture in Singapore, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)

SINGAPORE — British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Wednesday he is confident Prime Minister Theresa May will obtain the concessions needed to convince enough lawmakers to back an unpopular Brexit deal.

Leaving the European Union without a deal on March 29 would cause "disruption that could last some time," Hunt said.

"I think that she will find a way to get this deal through Parliament and I know that is what the British people would want," he added.

Hunt was replying to questions at a lecture in Singapore, the first stop on his three-day visit to Asia.

Last month, May postponed a parliamentary vote on a Brexit agreement with the European Union that has been widely criticized by loyalists and political opponents alike.

Her attempt to get assurances from the EU to sweeten the deal has been rebuffed by the bloc.

Barring further changes, the parliamentary vote will be held during the week of Jan. 14 — just 10 weeks before Britain is set to leave the EU.

In an interview with the BBC on Wednesday, Hunt said ongoing talks are focused on the word "temporary" for terms concerning the Irish border.

A so-called backstop could keep the U.K. in a customs union with the EU if the two sides can't agree on another way to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., and the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the EU.

"The EU has agreed that the backstop is temporary and that's a word they have agreed," Hunt said. "What we are saying very simply is 'we're not asking for anything new, but we are asking you to define what temporary means so that we can have confidence that we're not going to be trapped in the customs union forever.'"

Even with a tight timeline, Hunt said a second referendum would be a "devastating blow to democracy."

To unite pro- and anti-Brexit camps, "we have to make sure that there is a friendly separation where we have the closest possible trade relationship, the closest possible diplomatic relationship with our European friends and neighbors, because I think that is the biggest fear of the remainers," he added.

"We need to find a way of making sure that the Brexit that 48 percent are afraid of isn't the Brexit that we end up with and I am confident we can succeed."

Hunt said Britain will seek to strengthen its ties with Southeast Asia post-Brexit.

He said this includes negotiating a trade deal with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations and possibly joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, a Pacific trade pact.

Britain is the biggest European investor in Southeast Asia, with trade totaling nearly 37 billion British pounds ($46.8 billion).

Hunt leaves for Malaysia on Thursday.

___

This story has been corrected to fix word in quote to "disruption" instead of "destruction."

5 dead as Indonesian ferry catches fire in Java...

May 20, 2017

A search for survivors of a ferry that caught fire in the Java Sea, killing five people, has been...

Indonesia forest threatened by development...

Aug 23, 2017

An Indonesian company and its Chinese partner are pushing ahead with an industrial wood plantation...

Disbelief as 'most wanted' Indonesia politician...

Nov 17, 2017

A top Indonesian politician embroiled in a corruption scandal has been hospitalized after a car...

Indonesia says Papua villages in standoff with...

Nov 17, 2017

Indonesian police help evacuate more than 340 people from villages in easternmost Papua after...

Bali volcano emits wispy plume of steam, flights...

Dec 4, 2017

Gushing ash from a Bali volcano dissipated into a wispy plume of steam, and Australian airlines...

Penggerak pasaran mengikut TradingView

About Us

Duniaga is Malaysia’s top local source for business news and information where people head to stay connected with the business news. We give daily in-depth analysis on the business happenings in the country.

Contact us: sales[at]duniaga.com

Subscribe Now!