- Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond says that the UK and EU must reach a Brexit deal “avoiding dangerous cliff edges.” Speaking at the CDU Economic Council in Germany, Hammond said that he wants a deal “that protects jobs, business and prosperity.” The chancellor had previously hinted at a ‘soft’ Brexit in his speech at Mansion House. His comments appear to contradict Theresa May’s earlier mantra that “no deal is better than a bad deal”
LONDON – The chancellor, Philip Hammond has warned against a Brexit that would leave Britain at the “dangerous cliff edges” warning that “the risk of a bad outcome that does not promote jobs, growth and prosperity is a real one.”
In the latest sign that he rejects calls for a complete break from the EU Hammond told the CDU Economic Council in Germany that “my whole focus now is seeking to ensure that we maintain a close and mutually beneficial relationship between the EU and a UK which is outside the EU.”
The chancellor was a strong supporter of Remaining in the EU and is seen as the prominent supporter of a ‘softer’ Brexit within government, saying in his Mansion House speech that “we are not turning inwards.”
This stance appears to contradict the prime minister, Theresa May and David Davis, the Brexit secretary who have pushed for a ‘hard’ Brexit, prioritising ending free movement over the economy and repeatedly saying “no deal is better than a bad deal.”
Hammond warned that “the risk of a bad outcome that does not promote jobs, growth and prosperity is a real one.”
The chancellor urged both sides of the negotiations to avoid “petty politics,” saying they could not let it “interfere with economic logic” or we might “end up with a suboptimal option.”
Alluding to Boris Johnson’s claim that the UK could “have our cake and eat it,” the chancellor quoted former CDU finance minister Ludwig Erhard, who said “a compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest pieces.”
In what will be seen as a dig at the foreign secretary, Hammond joked that the quote had “some applicability to the Brexit negotiations although I try to discourage talk of “cake” amongst my colleagues.”
He continued by saying he was hopeful that “we can maximise the size of the cake and each enjoy a bigger piece,” and ended by saying that the UK and EU need to keep “collaborating together, to keep the cake expanding, for the benefit of all.”
The Conservative party is confused over how it should approach Brexit after the shock election result deprived it of a majority.
On Monday Theresa May laid out her “generous offer” to EU citizens in the UK. The plans would leave them with fewer rights than they currently enjoy.