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Japanese PM voices hope Britain can avoid no-deal Brexit

AFP  |  London 

Japanese said Thursday he hoped Britain would avoid crashing out of the without an agreement, as he threw his support behind the government's contentious deal days before a vote by MPs.

Flanked by British during a visit to London, Abe said Japanese businesses "very much welcomed" her draft divorce deal, which a majority of British lawmakers look set to reject in parliament next Tuesday amid fierce opposition.

"We truly hope that a no-deal will be avoided and in fact that is the... wish of the whole world," the Japanese told a Downing Street press conference.

"This draft agreement for transition and legal stability for Japanese businesses is very much welcomed," he added.

The endorsement came as pressure grew on May to rule out a no-deal if her agreement is rejected by MPs next week.

broke ranks earlier Thursday to warn that leaving the on March 29 with no agreement in place would be a calamity.

It would be "a disastrous situation in which we move to the most rudimentary terms of trade with our closest partners," he told radio.

However, May reiterated the only way for Britain to avoid leaving without an agreement was to back her plan.

"There is a good deal on the table," she said. "I want to see this deal getting through parliament."

Brexit-supporting Conservative MPs are opposed to the deal, arguing it leaves the country too closely tied to Europe, and May has already pulled the vote once with defeat looming.

Most MPs supported staying in the EU in the 2016 referendum, and many have vowed to do everything within their power to prevent a no-deal scenario.

But unless Britain actively decides to delay or revoke the legal process, it will leave the bloc at the end of March regardless.

In such a scenario, it would be forced to trade with the EU on terms, which could mean much higher tariffs for some products such as cars.

Japanese firms have invested billions of pounds in Britain, and are especially crucial in the car industry, using the country as a business-friendly home from which to trade across the continent.

"Even post-Brexit intends to maintain this very good relationship," Abe said when asked if Britain was jeopardising this.

"We truly hope that more investment will be done by Japanese businesses in the "

However, the British suffered a triple blow on Thursday when three of its biggest manufacturers, including Japanese firm and US maker Ford, announced job and production cuts.

Indian-owned carmaker announced the largest redundancies, with plans to reduce its 44,000 workforce by 4,500 under plans to make 2.5 billion pounds of cost savings.

May and Abe pledged new cooperation on robotics and artificial intelligence, while also announced an end to a 13-year ban on British beef and lamb.

May faces daunting odds in getting her deal passed, and was dealt a stinging defeat on Wednesday when MPs voted for an amendment demanding she produce new plans within three days if the agreement is voted down.

Aiming to capitalise on her weakness, opposition on Thursday made a Brexit speech in Wakefield, northern England, in which he called for a to resolve the deadlock.

"If the government cannot pass its most important legislation, then there must be a at the earliest opportunity," he said.

Corbyn has said he will seek a vote of no confidence in the government if it loses next week's Brexit vote, which could force fresh elections.

Many in his party hope that he will call for a second referendum, but the veteran leftist, a long-time of the European Union, has so far resisted.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, January 11 2019. 00:55 IST