A SOUTHAMPTON MP has dismissed talk of a “huge threat” to city jobs under a no-deal Brexit as “complete nonsense”.

Royston Smith pointed out that 90 per cent of trade done through Southampton Port was with countries outside the European Union.

His remarks came after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited the city last week and said a no-deal Brexit would jeopardise jobs that rely on free trade with Europe.

Mr Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen, said on Twitter: “Ninety per cent of all trade through the Port of Southampton is from and to the rest of the world, not the EU. All that trade is WTO (World Trade Organization).

“A deal is by far the best way forward but talk of a huge threat to jobs in Southampton without a deal is complete nonsense.”

Britain currently has free trade arrangements with many nations outside Europe because those countries have signed deals with the EU.

Trade takes place according to WTO rules where countries have not signed such trade deals. But many of those countries – including the US, China and Australia – still have multiple agreements with the EU covering particular sectors.

Among those responding to Mr Smith’s tweet was Emily Reid, professor of international economic law and sustainable development at Southampton Law School.

She called his comments “sadly uninformed” and said: “Today, much of our trade with non-EU member states is under terms of EU third state agreements, not WTO rules. We will lose that benefit when we Brexit, impacting on trade and jobs, unless deal/rollovers (are) agreed.”

Twitter user Jim Cornelius said: “We only trade with 24 countries on WTO terms. We have trade deals and give preferential market access to all the rest.”

The campaign group Southampton for Europe said: “We do not trade solely on WTO rules with the rest of the world. Our deals are negotiated through the EU’s FTA (free trade agreements) which we will lose if we leave.”

However, other Twitter users accused Mr Corbyn of spreading fear, while Peter Kaufmann wrote: “The major risk to jobs in Southampton and elsewhere is a Corbyn government.”

Mr Smith’s comments followed a visit by the opposition leader to Fawley. Mr Corbyn reiterated Labour’s policy of seeking its own Brexit deal and putting that to the public in a referendum, alongside the option to remain.

The Labour leader told the Daily Echo: “From Southampton’s point of view, trade with Europe is absolutely essential.

“Tourists that come from Europe, ships that go to Europe, goods that are exported, goods that are imported – if that trade is disrupted by going onto World Trade Organization arrangements, then clearly there’s a huge threat to jobs all across Southampton.”

The government is seeking a Brexit deal ahead of an EU summit on Thursday and a special sitting of Parliament on Saturday.