The “whole world” wants the UK to avoid a no-deal Brexit, Japan’s PM has claimed, after talks with Theresa May.
Shinzo Abe pledged “total support” for the withdrawal agreement she has negotiated with the EU, which faces a crunch vote in the Commons on Tuesday.
Mrs May has been speaking to Labour MPs and union leaders in a bid to try to get her deal through the Commons, where scores of her own MPs oppose it.
It comes as Honda UK announced a six-day post Brexit shut down.
The Japanese-owned car giant said the move was to ensure it could adjust to “all possible outcomes caused by logistics and border issues”.
Mrs May said leaving the EU provided “an unprecedented opportunity” for the countries to strengthen relations.
She and Mr Abe pledged to build on the trade agreement between Japan and the EU to secure an “ambitious bilateral arrangement” between Japan and the UK after Brexit.
Mr Abe said: “It is the strong will of Japan to further develop this strong partnership with the UK, to invest more into your country and to enjoy further economic growth with the UK.
“That is why we truly hope that a no-deal Brexit will be avoided, and in fact that is the whole wish of the whole world.
“Japan is in total support of the draft withdrawal agreement worked out between the EU and Prime Minister May, which provides for a transition to ensure legal stability for businesses that have invested into this country.”
The UK is set to leave the European Union on 29 March.
The withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU – covering things like the “divorce bill”, expat citizens’ rights and a 20-month transition period – will only come into force if MPs back it in a vote.
A no-deal Brexit would see the UK leave without a withdrawal agreement and start trading with the EU on the basis of World Trade Organization rules, an outcome favoured by some Brexiteers.
The deal negotiated between the UK and EU looks set to be rejected by MPs next Tuesday, with 110 Conservative MPs having said they will oppose it, Labour set to vote against it and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn calling for a general election “at the earliest opportunity” – should it be voted down.
“A government that cannot get its business through the House of Commons is no government at all,” he said.
“We’re going to get smashed” – one government insider’s apocalyptic prediction about one of the most important votes in recent political history.
As things stand, MPs are on course to kybosh Theresa May’s long-argued-over Brexit deal, with a very heavy defeat.
Dozens of her own backbenchers have said publicly they will vote against it.
The opposition parties are adamant they will say “no” too.
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