- Toby Melville/Reuters
LONDON – Philip Hammond has said that it would be irresponsible for the UK government to start spending money on planning for a “no-deal” Brexit and that it is the government’s “duty” to reach a deal with the European Union.
In an article for the Times newspaper, the Chancellor said that he will not be announcing measures to get ready for no-deal in the budget next month, in a move that will likely anger those in favour of a hard Brexit in the cabinet.
Hammond said: “We are planning for every outcome and we will find any necessary funding and we will only spend it when it’s responsible to do so.”
This follows Prime Minister Theresa May saying “we don’t know what’s going to happen” in a no-deal scenario for EU citizens in the United Kingdom after March 2019, during a phone-in on LBC radio on Tuesday afternoon.
May also refused several times to say how she would vote in a re-run of the EU referendum, telling host Iain Dale that she doesn’t answer “hypothetical questions.”
In his article, Hammond said the main challenge of Brexit is “uncertainty” and the only way to combat this is to agree a “time-limited implementation period” and also by “reaching a deal.”
He said: “A good deal is not just in the best interest of Britain, but Europe too.
“As the prime minister said in Florence, securing such a deal is our duty ‘not just for people today but for the next generation who will inherit the world we leave them’.”
The chancellor has come under fire from Conservative MPs for allegedly “deliberately” making Brexit difficult and has faced calls to stand down as chancellor.
In a retort to an anonymous cabinet minister who called him “miserable,” Hammond said it is his “duty to be realistic” about the challenges of Brexit.
He also made it clear that the UK would leave the customs union and single market in March 2019, when the country leaves the EU.
Hammond will appear in front of MPs on Wednesday morning at the Treasury select committee.
European Council President Donald Tusk has warned that if there wasn’t progress in Brexit talks in the next few weeks, there could be the potential for no-deal.
The European Council of the EU27 leaders will meet next Thursday to decide on whether “sufficient progress” has been made in negotiations to allow them to advance onto discussing the future UK-EU relationship.
Tusk said: “We are negotiating in good faith, and we still hope that the so-called ‘sufficient progress’ will be possible by December.
“However, if it turns out that the talks continue at a slow pace, and that sufficient progress hasn’t been reached, then, together with our UK friends, we will have to think about where we are heading.”
Hammond called on the EU to “adopt a more flexible and creative approach” in order to allow negotiations to progress.