Philip Hammond calls Brussels 'the enemy' in Brexit talks

Hammond said Brexit negotiations are creating a “cloud of uncertainty” that is suppressing the British economy | Jack Taylor  Getty Images

Hammond said a worst-case Brexit scenario could see all air traffic between the United Kingdom and the European Union grounded the day after Britain leaves the bloc on March 29, 2019.

In an interview with Sky News television on Friday, Hammond tried to quell the anger among some Conservatives who have accused him of taking too soft a line with Brussels.

But Peter Dowd for Labour branded the remarks "foolish" and showed the Chancellor was buckling under the pressure from those Tory MPs calling for him to be sacked. "I regret I used a poor choice of words", he wrote on Twitter.

Philip Hammond had been criticised for saying that the Brexit process has created uncertainty.

It will cap a week that will have seen Mr Hammond meet fellow finance ministers and central bankers in Washington, where he will also attend the G20 and G7 meetings, and touch on topics including productivity, digital taxation and global trade.

In the Commons yesterday Mrs May sought to reassure the Tory benches that the chancellor would commit £250 million to help with Brexit preparations, including planning for a "no deal" scenario. Hammond who campaigned for Britain to remain part of the European Union ahead of the June 2016 vote.

Echoing Prime Minister Theresa May's own reticence on the issue, Hammond declined to say how he would vote if another referendum were held now.

Appearing before the Treasury Select Committee, he said: "We will be ready, we will not spend it earlier than necessary just to make some demonstration point". "You know how I voted in it".

On Thursday May's spokeswoman said the prime minister had full confidence in Hammond, following criticism from one of his Conservative predecessors, Nigel Lawson, a strong supporter of Brexit who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher.

Earlier this week a rift opened up between Ms May and the Chancellor after Mr Hammond warned diverting funds in the current climate would mean less money for the NHS and social care - insisting funds would not be set aside until the "very last moment", if the need became clear and negotiations with Brussels collapsed.



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