Japan’s foreign minister has urged the two contenders for the title of Britain’s next prime minister to avoid a no deal Brexit on Thursday, June 27th, according to British media outlets.
The BBC reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said during the channel’s Today programme that he knew both of the two final contenders in the Conservative leadership race “very well”. Either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt will become Theresa May’s successor as head of the Conservative Party, eventually becoming prime minister.
Kono was quoted saying that he had meetings with both, requesting “please no no-deal Brexit”. He then continued to speak about possible implications for trade relations between the two countries, explaining that talks on the subject could not be held until after the UK’s leave from the European Union was completed.
According to the Guardian, Kono doubted the UK could sign a new trade deal with Japan, or any other nation for that matter, before leaving the EU. “I don’t think so,” he replied when asked if he thought it was possible. There would be “some kind of gap” before a deal could be made, he added, because the Brexit situation must arise before negotiations can take place.
Kono said it was theoretically possible for the UK to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. However, he again pressed that negotiations could not take place until the UK had left the EU.
He did, however, urge for more clarity, warning that Japanese firms were highly “concerned” about a no-deal situation. Kono cautioned that Japanese companies currently operating in the UK would relocate to other countries in Europe in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
“There are over 1,000 Japanese companies operating in the United Kingdom, so we are very concerned with this no-deal Brexit,” he said.
Both Johnson and Hunt have previously declared they would prefer to leave the EU with a negotiated deal in place, but each has also confirmed that they would go ahead with the Brexit process even without an agreement with the EU.