Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 July 2019

UK finance minister will try to bring down no-deal Brexit government

Philip Hammond did not rule out running for the leadership himself

Philip Hammond supports a so-called 'soft Brexit.' Reuters.
Philip Hammond supports a so-called 'soft Brexit.' Reuters.

The UK’s finance minister has warned he could support a no-confidence motion against the next government if it pursued a no-deal exit from the European Union.

Philip Hammond, a staunch supporter of a ‘soft’ Brexit where the UK would remain somewhat aligned with the EU, said a hard withdrawal from the bloc was “not in Britain's interests”.

An array of candidates are competing to replace outgoing prime minister and Conservative Party leader Theresa May. Some, such as current favourite and former foreign minister Boris Johnson, have said they could support a no-deal Brexit if the UK has not left the EU on October 31.

"I would not support a policy of no-deal by choice. "That is not in Britain's interests, it would be taking huge risks with the unity of our country, with our security and clearly with our economy,” Mr Hammond told Sky News.

"I couldn't support a government policy stance that said as a matter of choice we are going to pursue a no-deal exit,” added the finance minister, who has not put his name forward for prime minister.

Mrs May is to leave the role after failing three times to get her withdrawal agreement through parliament and was forced to delay the original Brexit date of March 29, a move that angered Eurosceptics.

When pushed if he would support the next government even if it pressed on with a no-deal Brexit, Mr Hammond said: “I've been in parliament for 22 years. I have never once voted against the Conservative whip, so it is not something that I would do lightly or enthusiastically.”

"But I am very clear that the national interest trumps the party interest. And if I am presented with a difficult choice, I will act in what I believe is the best interest of this country,” he added.

Whoever takes over as prime minister faces a difficult job uniting a Conservative Party split over the way forward. Mrs May’s government reached out to the opposition Labour Party to try and hammer out a withdrawal deal but failed to reach a compromise.

Speaking this morning, the minister said he could run for the leadership himself if none of his views were "properly represented" in the emerging list of candidates.

Mr Hammond also intimated he could be prepared to support a second referendum if MPs were unable to break the current political deadlock. He did, however, say his preference was for a deal to be voted through parliament by 31 October.

"If we do get to the point where Parliament has to admit that it cannot resolve this issue, then clearly it will have to be remitted back to the people,” he told the BBC .

"I am not sure that a general election can resolve the question for the simple reason that both the main political parties are divided on the issue."

He did not rule out running for the top job.

Updated: May 30, 2019 02:10 PM

SHARE

SHARE