The former Chancellor has blasted Boris Johnson’s team for paving the way for a no-deal Brexit, arguing it would be “a betrayal” of the referendum result in 2016 and “must not happen”.
Writing in the Times this morning, Philip Hammond slammed “the unelected people” – thinly veiled code for Johnson’s closest adviser Dominic Cummings – who he said were trying to “pull the strings” of the Prime Minister’s new government.
Having pushed for minimal disruption to business throughout the process, Hammond insisted there was no public or parliamentary mandate for a no-deal Brexit, and threatened that parliament will “make its voice heard” when it returns in the autumn.
Since leaving office Hammond has joined forces with former justice secretary David Gauke and other pro-Remain MPs in the so-called ‘Gaukward squad’, which is expected to derail Number 10’s efforts to force Brexit through on 31 October regardless of whether a deal has been struck.
Hammond said current signs that this would happen with a deal in place were “not encouraging”.
He wrote: “The pivot from demanding changes to the backstop to demanding its total removal is a pivot from a tough negotiating stance to a wrecking one.
“The unelected people who pull the strings of this government know that this is a demand the EU cannot, and will not, accede to.”
A no-deal Brexit would “break up the UK”, resulting in “a diminished and inward-looking little England”, he wrote.
“Most people in this country want to see us leave in a smooth and orderly fashion that will not disrupt lives, cost jobs or diminish living standards, whether they voted Leave or Remain in 2016,” Hammond added.
The former Chancellor told BBC’s Today programme “Pivoting to say the backstop has to go in its entirety… is effectively a wrecking tactic, and the people behind this know that means there will be no deal”.
Separately, Hammond is one of a number of MPs to have signed a letter saying they are “alarmed” by Johnson’s red lines in Brexit talks “which, on the face of it, appear to eliminate the chance of reaching agreement with the EU.”
The letter, which is also signed by Theresa May’s former deputy David Lidington, former business secretary Greg Clark, and former justice secretary David Gauke, continued: “Any deal necessarily has to be a compromise and many commentators feel that you have set the bar so high that there is no realistic probability of a deal being done.
“We would therefore greatly appreciate your confirmation that you remain committed to doing a deal; that you accept that any such deal will most likely require compromise and that it remains your view that the chance of No Deal is ‘less than a million to one’.
“This will reassure not only us, but also the currency markets.”
Other names on the list include former ministers Caroline Nokes, Caroline Spelman, Rory Stewart, Stephen Hammond, Alistair Burt, Anne Milton, Sir Nicholas Soames, Sam Gyimah, Margot James and Foreign Affairs Committee chair Tom Tugendhat, as well as Paul Masterton, Simon Hoare, Alberto Costa, Steve Brine, Richard Harrington and Sarah Newton.
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