Abe backs May and says Britain needs deal for Brexit

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday that the world did not want to see a disorderly Brexit and that it fully supported the withdrawal agreement of the British Prime Minister Theresa May of the European Union, now facing defeat in Parliament.

Some of the top companies in Japan in Britain warned that a Brexit without a deal could be a disaster. After meeting with May in London, Abe said it was a scenario no one wanted to see.

"Japan's willingness to further develop this partnership with the UK, to invest more in the country and to have more economic growth with the United Kingdom is strong," Abe said in a translator at a news conference next May.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British Prime Minister Theresa May walk through the World Rugby Museum during a visit to Twickenham Rugby Stadium in London on January 10. (AP)

"That's why we really expect a Brexit without agreement to be avoided and, in fact, that's the wish of the whole world."

Japanese companies have spent more than 59 billions of dollars in Britain, encouraged by successive British governments since Margaret Thatcher promised them a business-friendly basis for trading across Europe.

Brexit's future remains deeply uncertain - with options ranging from a disorderly exit from the EU to another association referendum - because UK lawmakers need to vote for an agreement in 15 to introduce the EU.

Abe has been one of the strongest international supporters of the Brexit deal since meeting with May in September. When the two met at a G20 meeting in Buenos Aires in December, he called for May's support to avoid a "non-agreement" and ensure transparency, predictability and legal stability in the process.

"Japan is in full support of the elaborate EU withdrawal agreement by Prime Minister May, who plans a transition that will ensure legal stability for the companies that have invested in this country," he said. However, investors fear that if the deal is not accepted, as expected, the world's fifth-largest economy could plunge into a chaotic, non-negotiated exit from the world's largest trading bloc, severely hampering supply chains.

Britain's business minister, Greg Clark, also said Brexit will not be a disaster and partners like Japan need to ensure that this will be avoided.

May told reporters that the only way to avoid such a scenario was for lawmakers to back their agreement.

Source: Asahi

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