Philip Hammond Says No Deal Brexit Would Be "A Betrayal"

14 August 2019, 10:39

The former Chancellor has expressed his concerns about Boris Johnson's Brexit plans
The former Chancellor has expressed his concerns over Boris Johnson's Brexit plans. Picture: PA

The former Chancellor is leading a group of 20 Tories voicing their concerns about the Prime Minister's Brexit plans.

Philip Hammond has accused Boris Johnson of trying to sabotage the chance of any new Brexit deal by making demands the EU could never accept.

Speaking in The Times, the former Chancellor said that a no-deal Brexit would be a "betrayal" of the 2016 EU referendum result.

Mr Hammond also warned that a no deal Brexit would "break up the UK", that the reality would be "a diminished and inward looking little England" and that it would be a "travesty of the truth" to pretend that Leave voters backed a no deal Brexit when they voted in 2016.

He stated that Boris Johnson risks allowing "unelected people" to "pull the strings" of his government and prevent any deal being accepted, in an apparent criticism of Dominic Cummings, one of Boris Johnson's most senior advisors.

Philip Hammond also took swipes at Dominic Cummings
Philip Hammond also took swipes at Dominic Cummings. Picture: PA

He continued, “the hardliners may make the most noise but they are not the most numerous."

"Most people in this country want to see us leave in a smooth and orderly fashion that will not disrupt lives, cost jobs or diminish living standards, whether they voted leave or remain in 2016.”

A Number 10 source has hit back, stating how as Chancellor Philip Hammond "actively undermined the government's negotiating position" and that his real objective was to "cancel the referendum result".

Mr Hammond refuted the claims on his Twitter account, stating that "no deal is a far cry from the highly optimistic vision presented by the Leave campaign".

Hammond accused Boris Johnson's government of making demands that the EU would never agree to "because the fragility of their own coalition of 27 means any attempt on their side to reopen the package would see their unity collapse."

He argued that they "will not take that chance and the smart people in Whitehall know it.”

20 MPs have shown their support for Hammond's claims and written to the Prime Minister accusing him of setting the bar too high for EU negotiations and making it impossible to reach a deal.

The group contains seven former ministers, including Greg Clark, David Gauke and Rory Stewart.

The letters state that MPs are "alarmed by the ‘red lines’ you have drawn which, on the face of it, appear to eliminate the chance of reaching agreement with the EU”.

The intervention is a strong sign that Conservatives opposed to a no deal Brexit are willing to vote against the party line and join opposition parties in trying to prevent Boris Johnson taking the UK out of the EU without a deal on 31 October.

Hammond's comments follow a legal challenge brought against the Prime Minister by cross party MPs and peers. The case brought to the Sottish court of session aims to rule any plans to push through a no deal Brexit by suspending parliament "unlawful and unconstitutional".