Hammond vows to fight back against bad Brexit deal as he plots vision for Britain's high-tech future

Mark Sands
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MPs Debate The Brexit Bill In The House Of Commons
Hammond will deliver the spring Budget on Wednesday, (Source: Getty)

Ahead of his first full Budget, chancellor Philip Hammond has vowed the government would fight back against a Brexit deal that doesn't deliver for Britain, insisting the country will not be left licking its wounds after negotiations.

Hammond warned the European Union of the UK's "fighting spirit" and said the country will not "slink off as a wounded animal" if Brexit talks collapse.

Prime Minister Theresa May will fire the starting gun on negotiations later this month, and Hammond yesterday said Britain will do "whatever it takes" to remain competitive.

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"If there's anybody in the EU who thinks that if we don't do a deal with the EU, if we don't continue to work closely together, Britain will slink off as a wounded animal, that is not going to happen," Hammond said.

"Britain has a fighting spirit and we will fight back. We will do whatever it takes to make this country competitive."

Despite his optimism, Hammond will also stress the importance of maintaining a Brexit fighting fund, promising to ensure Britain has enough “gas in the tank” to weather economic turbulence.

Read More: Government should cut business rates if there's a Brexit slowdown: CBI

His bullish take on Brexit comes just days ahead of the spring Budget in which Hammond is expected to reveal more than £500m of spending plans to put the UK at the forefront of global technology development.

Hammond will pledge to devote funding for trail-blazing projects like artificial intelligence, robotics, electric cars and cutting-edge ways to manufacture medicines.

He will also reveal the first steps towards a previously announced £740m investment in the UK's digital infrastructure, including the publication of a 5G strategy for high speed mobile, and incentives for the private sector to invest in full-fibre networks.

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A further £200m of funding will support research fellowships in areas aligned with the industrial strategy, a quarter of which will be focused on luring talent from outside the UK, and £90m will support 1,000 PhD places in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The chancellor's announcements will build upon plans revealed this weekend to enhance technical education opportunities for teenagers through so-called T-levels.

Speculation is rife that Hammond will also reveal plans to soften the blow of a hike to business rates, following an outcry over the impact of next month's controversial revaluation.

In addition, he will promise consumer friendly measures including cutting down on small print, fines for companies abusing customers and efforts to cut “subscription traps” for gym memberships and media streaming plans.

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