The UK Business Secretary has admitted that the “many thousands of jobs” will be lost if the next leader of the country pushes forward with a no deal Brexit.
Leadership contenders Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have both promised to leave the EU without a deal if they don’t get what they want from Europe.
They have promised to try and negotiate concessions on the Irish border backstop – something the EU has categorically ruled out.
"Many thousands of jobs"
In an interview with Sky News this morning, the country’s Business Secretary Greg Clarke said it is “hugely important” for the UK to reach a deal adding that Downing Street has a “responsibility to protect people's livelihoods in this country.”
Asked how many jobs could be lost, he replied: "It's many thousands of jobs. Everyone knows that".
“I think that every person who considers the evidence that companies have given, whether it's in the automotive sector, whether it's in the food sector, whether it's in aerospace, whether it's in industries up and down the country,” he said. “You know if you become less efficient and your ability to trade is impeded then of course losing your competitiveness means that there will be jobs that will be lost.”
He said whoever takes on the leadership must “strain every sinew to avoid” no deal.
Mr Clarke has been one of the UK Cabinet’s most vocal opponents of no deal, along with the likes of Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Amber Rudd.
Mr Gauke on Sunday confirmed that he would resign if the incoming leader tried to force through a no deal policy.
He urged his colleague to be truthful about the “very significant downsides” the UK would face if it crashes out.
Ms Rudd on the other hand has reversed her position in a bid to remain a member of cabinet under the new leader.
She said she now accepts that no deal is “part of the armoury going forward.”
Asked if he would sit in a cabinet that backed a no deal policy, Mr Clarke said he has “always been consistent that we need to leave with a deal.”
“I am not going to trim and chop and change my views given that they are based on the evidence that men and women up and down this country running businesses, working in businesses, have made it crystal clear to me what that means and I will always represent them,” he said.
“A no-deal Brexit would be enormously damaging and I will do everything I can to persuade my colleagues to avoid that and get a good deal.
“My responsibility at all times is to advance what I know is to be the truth. We must have a deal that allows us to move on to settle this debate and negotiation.”
Announcing its latest Brexit contingency plans this week, the Government conceded that there will need to be some form of checks on goods coming for the north to the south of Ireland.
The document provides no deal on how this can be carried out while also avoiding a hard border – and discussion with the European Commission are ongoing.
Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he can’t promise that the country will not “end up in a difficult situation.”
“That is why we have to secure a Withdrawal Agreement,” he said. “That is why we have to ensure that we don’t end up in a no deal scenario.”
Meanwhile, the nominee to become the next European Commission President told the European Parliament that the Irish border backstop is “precious, important and has to be defended.”