Jeremy Hunt would support no-deal Brexit job losses 'with a heavy heart'

PUBLISHED: 09:48 01 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:14 01 July 2019

Conservative party leadership contender Jeremy Hunt (left) and Len McCluskey, General Secretary of the Unite Union, appearing on the Andrew Marr Show. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire.

Conservative party leadership contender Jeremy Hunt (left) and Len McCluskey, General Secretary of the Unite Union, appearing on the Andrew Marr Show. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire.

Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt has been criticised by the business community for claiming he would be able to look family businesses 'in the eye' over no-deal Brexit job losses.

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Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One, he said: "At the beginning of October, if there is no prospect of a deal that can get through parliament, then I will leave at the end of October because that is our democratic promise to the British people."

When pressed on whether he would be willing to look the owners of family businesses "in the eye" when saying they should be prepared to see their companies go bust, Hunt said: "I would do so but I'd do it with a heavy heart precisely because of the risks."

Hunt said it was important that the country is seen abroad as "a country where politicians do what the people tell them to do".

It has prompted anger within the business community.

Claire Walker from the British Chambers of Commerce told the Guardian: "Politicians must remember that it is businesses that create jobs and opportunities across our communities, and it is the role of government to create the conditions necessary for these firms to survive and grow, now and in the future. A focus on ideology rather than practicalities does not serve the interests of the UK, or its people, well."

Make UK, a body representing manufacturing and engineering businesses, said "the suggestion that losing them is a price worth paying leaves many speechless".

"We call on any and every politician advocating no deal to think carefully about the enormous harm it would do to businesses and the millions of families who rely on them."

In the same programme Unite union boss Len McCluskey said a poll that showed members of his union were Remainers is 'absolute nonsense'.

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