Speaking as the prime minister was in Brussels, where EU leaders agreed the Brexit plan, the foreign secretary declined to predict whether the proposals would make the UK better off, saying only that it “mitigates most of the negative impacts” of leaving the EU.
Hunt was the second cabinet minister to make such a statement on on Sunday, with the communities secretary, James Brokenshire, also refusing to assert that he believed the plan would be better for the UK than staying in the EU.
Speaking on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, Hunt urged his fellow Conservative MPs to back the deal, saying it was the best that could be expected for now.
“I think the truth is there are compromises in this deal,” he said. “But my colleagues in the House of Commons will be looking at this and they will say, we have got between 70% and 80% of what we want, and the question is: can this be a staging post to getting 100% of what we want, particularly being an independent trading nation, a sovereign Britain ploughing our furrow in the world?”
But Hunt accepted that getting the deal approved by the Commons looked problematic. He said: “That’s a very difficult question, and the arithmetic at the moment is looking challenging. But a lot can change over the next two weeks. I think what all of my colleagues will be doing is thinking what is in the national interest.”
Asked if this meant it was possible May’s government could collapse, Hunt did not dismiss the idea.
He said: “It’s not possible to rule out anything, and that’s why all of us have to say, what do your constituents actually want in this situation, and we have to work out what’s in the national interest, and it’s all about the balance of risks. This isn’t a perfect deal for everyone, but does have a lot of what everyone wants.” [...]
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