Leaving the European Union without a deal would vastly shrink the UK’s international influence and would represent “the biggest unilateral abandonment” of long-term British interests in modern history, a group of former ambassadors have claimed.
In a letter, signed by 25 former senior diplomats and published in the Times, they urged Boris Johnson to “signal a different approach” at this weekend’s G7 summit in Biarritz, France, and retain “close relationships with our European neighbours”.
It said: “An impending no-deal Brexit … would result in an unprecedented – and self-inflicted – diminution of Britain’s international influence. We need a foreign policy based on long-term UK interests and a strong economy, and that requires close relationships with our European neighbours.
“No deal represents the biggest unilateral abandonment of those interests in modern British history. It should not be allowed to happen. We hope the prime minister uses this G7 meeting to signal a different approach.”
The intervention came after the Brexit secretary, Steve Barclay, confirmed the UK would not nominate a new candidate for the role of EU commissioner, as other members states in the bloc considered who to nominate.
He said: “We are leaving the EU on 31 October. As a departing member state we will not be involved in the new commission so it would be a distraction to nominate a new commissioner.”
On Friday, the prime minister played down hopes of an early breakthrough in talks with the EU over the Brexit deal.
Johnson told reporters during a visit to Devon: “I’m afraid we will have to prepare to come out without an agreement and we can do that. We are very confident that we will be OK because we will have all sorts of preparations in place.
“We are making progress but I am just telling people not to hold their breath, because I have seen the way these Brussels negotiations work.
“I must urge people – we are going to be working very hard on this but they shouldn’t necessarily get their hopes up too soon.”
Later, in remarks released before the G7 summit, Johnson said the UK would continue to be an “energetic partner” to its international allies after Brexit.
“The Britain I lead will be an international, outward-looking, self-confident nation,” he said. “We will be an energetic partner on the world stage. We will stand alongside our G7 allies to solve the most pressing international issues.”
No-deal Brexit would shrink UK’s global influence, say ex-ambassadors – The Guardian