A U.K. departure from the EU with a deal is “the wish of the whole world,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday.
In a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London, Abe underlined that he truly hoped a no-deal Brexit will be avoided.
Welcoming the progress the U.K. has made in Brexit negotiations with the EU, Abe said his country and the U.K. are developing stronger ties not only in political arena but also in economic field.
“The world is watching the U.K. as it exits the EU,” he said.
“I would like to extend my deepest respect for the strong will and hard work by Theresa for the parliamentary approval of the withdrawal agreement,” he added.
Abe said the U.K. has been a gateway to Europe for Japanese businesses and by investing more in this country, Japan would like to further develop this partnership in the future.
He added that Japanese firms have 1,000 bases in the U.K., supporting 150,000 jobs.
Abe said there will be negotiations to start a new economic relationship with the U.K. and close partnership will continue.
Also praising strong ties with Japan, May said the only way to avoid no-deal exit from the EU is to have a deal.
She said she is still working with the EU on the backstop issue -- a main objected article in the deal -- adding that her deal is in the national interest.
- Vote next week
A House of Commons vote on the withdrawal agreement reached by May and EU officials is set for next Tuesday.
The possibility of passage is low, as the opposition parties and the government’s de facto partner the DUP have already said they would vote no.
This week the government has been defeated in two key Brexit-related votes, as around 20 Tory MPs cast votes against the government.
The U.K. is set to leave the European club on March 29, ending the country’s more than 40-year membership as the result of a landmark 2016 referendum.
By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal in London