Brexit: No-deal 'disaster' warning as carmaker axes 5,000 jobs

Business Secretary Greg Clark
Business Secretary Greg Clark
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The Business Secretary has warned a no-deal Brexit would be a “disaster” as the UK Government made a last-ditch plea to Labour MPs to save the Prime Minister’s deal with Brussels.

Greg Clark said two damaging Commons defeats over two days showed there was no majority for leaving the EU without an agreement.

It came as Jaguar Land Rover announced plans to axe 5,000 of its 40,000 UK workforce, blaming uncertainty over Brexit as well as the economic slowdown in China.

READ MORE: Jaguar Land Rover to announce thousands of job cuts

Meanwhile, reports suggest that the Government could accept an amendment from Labour MPs seeking to guarantee there would be no change to workplace protections after Brexit.

Mr Clark said he would support a series of "indicative votes" to establish what sort of agreement could command a majority in the House.

"It is my strong view that we need to come together. We need to act to avoid a no-deal because I don't think there is anything remotely like a majority in Parliament that will tolerate this," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

In the Commons on Wednesday, the Prime Minister refused a call from Jeremy Corbyn to take the prospect of a no-deal break off the table.

However, with no apparent majority for any of the mooted alternatives to Mrs May's plan, Mr Clark warned there was a danger the country could "fall into" a no-deal unless MPs came together to agree a way forward.

"The default is in law that unless we have a deal, then we will fall into no-deal," he said.

"What Parliament needs to do is recognise that we need to put differences aside and establish agreement on a deal. It is something that has to involve the whole of Parliament."

Mr Clark is widely seen, along with Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, as one of the senior ministers most strongly opposed to a no-deal.

Asked if he would resign rather than see a no-deal, he said: "I would always work and fight to make sure that the policy of the Government is to have a good deal, to avoid what I think would be a disaster which would be no-deal."

Jaguar Land Rover, which has three assembly and production plants on Merseyside and in the West Midlands and a number of research and development sites, said the bulk of the job losses would be in marketing and administration.

Labour shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said companies like Jaguar Land Rover had “suffered months of uncertainty”.

READ MORE: Post-Brexit immigration changes disastrous for Scotland, Minister warns

"The Government needs to realise that the automotive sector from factory floor and right across supply chains desperately needs tangible support not warm words,” she said.

Mr Clark’s call came as Nick Timothy - who was formerly one of Mrs May's closest advisers - said that he did not believe the Prime Minister would "willingly" allow a no-deal Brexit.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he said: "No 10 is trying to give the impression that no deal remains possible but, after many years of knowing the Prime Minister, I do not believe that she would willingly take Britain out of the EU without a deal."