• Boris Johnson claims a no-deal Brexit will be “vanishingly inexpensive.”
  • His rival for prime minister, Jeremy Hunt, accuses him of “peddling optimism.”
  • The two men clashed during a fiery televised leadership debate.
  • Johnson is the current favourite to replace Theresa May as prime minister later this month.
  • Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories.

A no-deal Brexit would be “vanishingly inexpensive” to the British economy, Boris Johnson has said.

The UK government’s own official estimates suggest a no-deal Brexit would cost the UK between 6.3% to 10.7% in lost growth over 15 years.

However, Johnson told a televised leadership debate on Tuesday evening, that leaving the EU without a deal would not do significant damage to Britain’s economic prospects as long as it was properly prepared for.

“The crucial thing is to prepare,” Johnson told his rival for prime minister Jeremy Hunt.

“It’s vanishingly inexpensive if you prepare. So for instance we have to ensure that the agricultural is properly safeguarded and we have deals on aviation.”

Johnson acknowledged that it could be “costly” if it was “badly-handled” but insisted that Britain should be optimistic about the prospects of leaving without a deal.

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He also insisted that leaving without a deal would allow the UK to withhold the £39 billion it has pledged to pay the EU as part of its divorce arrangements.

Hunt responded by accusing Johnson of “peddling optimism,” to which Johnson replied “I think his country needs a bit of optimism.”

Johnson: A no-deal Brexit will be ‘vanishingly inexpensive’