In Brief

Japan’s PM says ‘whole world’ is against no-deal Brexit

Shinzo Abe angers Eurosceptic MPs by pledging ‘total support’ for Theresa May’s deal

Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe has told Theresa May that the “whole world” wants the UK to avoid leaving the European Union without a deal.

Speaking after trade talks with his British counterpart at Downing Street yesterday, Abe said that Japan was in “total support” of her EU Withdrawal Agreement, which is widely expecting to be voted down by MPs next week, the BBC says.

He added: “We truly hope that a no-deal Brexit will be avoided, and in fact that is the whole wish of the whole world.”

Abe’s visit comes amid news that Honda has announced a six-day post-Brexit shutdown of its operations in the UK.

The firm is one of around 1,000 Japanese businesses with bases in the UK that together employ more than 150,000 people.

Japanese firms view the UK as the “gateway to the European market” and are alarmed by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, ITV News reports.

The Japanese PM touched on those fears during a Downing Street press conference, saying that he backed May’s deal because it “provides for transition to ensure legal stability for businesses that have invested into this country”.

May responded that leaving the EU provided “an unprecedented opportunity” for countries to strengthen relations, and both leaders pledged to build a “ambitious bilateral arrangement” between Japan and the UK following Brexit.

But Abe’s comments have angered some Brexiteers, with Eurosceptic Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg suggesting that Japan “can hardly claim to speak for the whole world” given to its controversial policy on whale hunting.

Fellow Tory MP Simon Clarke added that Abe’s comments “brings back memories of President Obama being wheeled out by David Cameron before the referendum”, and described this week’s meeting as a “stunt”.

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