Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng: No-deal Brexit 'is not a world war'

PUBLISHED: 11:19 26 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:34 26 June 2019

Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng speaks to Professor Anand Menon at a UK in a Changing Europe event (Pic: @UKandEU/Twitter)

Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng speaks to Professor Anand Menon at a UK in a Changing Europe event (Pic: @UKandEU/Twitter)

@UKandEU/Twitter

A Brexit minister has sought to quell fears about Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal, saying it "is not a world war".

Kwasi Kwarteng told an academic event that a no-deal Brexit "won't have any long-term impact on growth" in the UK as, he insisted, neither of the 20th century's global conflicts had.

Speaking at a UK in a Changing Europe event at King's College London, Kwarteng said that "no-deal can work" and that "I don't think there'll be a big economic shock".

The hardline Brexiteer and under-secretary of state at the Brexit department said: "This is just the point that [no-deal Brexiteer and former governor of the Bank of England] Mervyn King made.

"If you look at GDP from 1800 - I know it's a very, very long time ago - but if you were to look at a graph, you would see that the British economy over 200 years has grown at about one-and-a-half, two percent a year on average.

"And he made the point that if you covered the years, if you covered the x-axis, you wouldn't actually be able to spot where the world wars and the big tremors were through this even growth.

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"No-deal is not a world war. It just isn't. It just isn't anything like that."

Kwarteng, a backer of Boris Johnson for the Conservative leadership, said that "on that basis I don't think it will have a long-term effect on the growth of the British economy".

He said: "And what makes countries rich? I mean, Adam Smith talked about it - it's tax policy, macroeconomic policy, innovation, productivity. These are things that frankly have nothing to do with Brexit, or very little to do with Brexit."

The UK in a Changing Europe's Professor Anand Menon, who was questioning Kwarteng, said that "'It isn't a world war' isn't a recommendation".

Kwarteng responded: "I get that. I get… sorry, I accept that. I was trying to make an argument.

"If, in the case of world wars, you can't even see a tremor, in this particular instance, which is not anything like a world war - let me say, it's nothing like it - it won't have any long-term impact on growth. That's my view."

Professor Menon noted that "we live in a country where two years ago KFC ran out of chicken and people rang the police".

Kwarteng told the event that he trusted Johnson to renegotiate Theresa May's withdrawal agreement and deliver his promise to leave the EU on October 31.

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