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  1. ITV Report

Avoiding a no-deal Brexit is the 'wish of the whole world', says Japan's Shinzo Abe

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

Japanese prime minster Shinzo Abe has said it is the "wish of the whole world" that the UK avoids leaving the European Union without a deal.

Speaking alongside Theresa May at a Downing Street press conference following talks, Mr Abe said his country was in "total support" of the PM's EU Withdrawal Agreement.

For the 1,000 Japanese businesses who have made bases in the UK, offering more than 150,000 jobs, the UK is the gateway to the European market.

Mr Abe was optimistic that Japanese and British relationships would remain close after Brexit and would continue to grow.

He 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 wish of the whole world."

Mr Abe praised Mrs May's "strong will" and hard work" adding "Japan is in total support of the draft Withdrawal Agreement".

Shinzo Abe and Theresa May visited Twickenham Stadium ahead of Japan hosting the Rugby World Cup. Credit: PA

He said the deal provided the transition needed to ensure legal stability for businesses that have invested in the UK.

Mrs May told the Japanese PM that relations with his country would be "increasingly important" as the UK leaves the EU and "raise our horizons towards the rest of the world".

"Our exit from the EU provides an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen this trade and investment relationship," she said.

She hailed Mr Abe's commitment to an "ambitious bilateral arrangement" building on the recently-completed EU-Japan free trade deal.

And she welcomed the Japanese PM's "positive comments" about the possibility of the UK becoming part of the CPTPP Pacific free trade alliance.

"That is certainly something that we are interested in pursuing and we look forward to taking those discussions further," said the British PM.

Abe and May said they hope to build on Japan-UK bi-lateral relationships. Credit: PA

Following the government's defeat on an amendment that demanded the prime minister returns within three sitting days with a new Brexit plan if she is defeated in next week's meaningful vote, Mrs May reiterated her plea to MPs to back her agreement to avoid no-deal.

She said: "The only way to avoid no deal is to have a deal and to agree a deal, and the deal that is on the table, the deal that is the deal that the EU has made clear is the only deal.

"There's an issue that's been raised about the backstop, and we are continuing to work with the EU on that particular issue, but there is a good deal on the table and for those who want to avoid no deal then backing the deal is the thing to do."

May walks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he receives a military Guard of Honour. Credit: PA

The prime minister said she was "surprised" at Speaker John Bercow's decision to allow the vote on the amendment, tabled by Dominic Grieve.

Several Tory Brexiteers have accused Mr Bercow of breaking Commons' rules.

"Obviously the Speaker made a decision on a particular amendment. I was surprised at that decision.

"It's for the Speaker to explain that decision. And as you would have seen yesterday, the Leader of the House asked him if he would publish the advice that he had received on that."