International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has cautioned that EU leaders forcing Britain into the so-called no-deal Brexit scenario will result in "a consequence for their economies."
"When I read that no-deal would not be a big impact on Europe overall, first of all I doubt the analysis but, secondly, no deal would be very disproportionately shared and might mean a reduction in GDP of something like 4 per cent for the Netherlands, 3.5 per cent for Belgium and 7 or 8 per cent for Ireland," Fox pointed out.
Underscoring the need "to have a people's Brexit, not a bureaucrats Brexit", he warned that the possible no-deal scenario will have negative impact on the "economic prosperity and wellbeing" of EU citizens.
Fox also praised Prime Minister Theresa May's Chequers deal on Britain's withdrawal from the EU, which he said will not keep London from clinching new trade agreements with other countries, including the US.
"I don't agree with the assumption we can't do a full agreement with the United States. We will have absolute freedom to change our quotas and our tariffs, including on manufactured goods, under the agreement that was made at Chequers," he noted.
His remarks came after European Commission Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier warned last week that "on both sides of the Channel, businesses, including subsidiaries of US firms, should prepare for the worst case scenario of a "no deal," which would result in the return of tariffs, under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules."
In separate development, at least one hundred UK Conservative MPs, including the so-called "Hard Brexiteers", reportedly joined a WhatsApp group seeking to coordinate opposition in the party against the Chequers agreement.
The 12-point deal specifically envisages a "UK-EU free trade area with a common rulebook for industrial goods and agricultural products which will be good for jobs."
The Brexit negotiations between London and the EU kicked off last year and are due to be wrapped up before the end of March 2019.
Brussels seeks to reach an agreement on Britain's exit from the EU by October, in a bid to provide the European Parliament and the UK MPs with sufficient time to vote on the deal before the March deadline.