- On an overseas visit, Theresa May slapped down Philip Hammond’s recent Brexit intervention, calling his statistics into doubt.
- May also said that a no deal Brexit would not “be the end of the world.”
- May also sought to play down recent questions by Cabinet Office Minister David Lidlington, who said that talks could be extended.
- May pushed back against this, saying “we are all working towards an October deadline”.
LONDON – Theresa May has distanced herself from warnings by her cabinet colleagues of the dangers of a no-deal Brexit by insisting that leaving the EU without a deal “wouldn’t be the end of the world.”
The Chancellor Philip Hammond warned on Thursday that the Treasury could be forced to borrow £80bn extra over 15 years as a result of Britain leaving without a deal.
However, May distanced herself from Hammond echoing recent comments by the Director General of the World Trade Organisation Roberto Azevêdo’s, who said that a fard Brexit “is not going to be the end of the world in the sense that trade is going to stop and that everything is going to fall down. No… But it’s not going to be a walk in the park either.”
- Denis Balibouse/Reuters
Crunching the Numbers
Mentioning Azevêdo’s comments, May told reporters during a visit to South Africa: “Look at what the director general of the World Trade Organisation has said. He has said about the no-deal situation that it will not be a walk in the park, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.”
“What the government is doing is putting in place the preparation such that if we are in that situation, we can make a success of it, just as we can make a success of a good deal.”
May cast doubt on the figures Hammond had used to warn against a hard Brexit, which May suggested were months out of date, having been calculated in January. “They were a work in progress at that particular time,” she said.
Red line for October
May also slapped down Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, who suggested last week that negotiations could be extended to after the October deadline.Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator, had previously said the talks could be extended to November.
In response to Lidlington’s comments, May said: “we are all working to the October deadline…from our point of view there is some legislation we have to get through parliament [in order to be able to leave the EU by March 2019]”.
The Prime Minister is currently visiting Africa for the first time in her premiership, and was speaking in Cape Town on Tuesday morning.