Philip Hammond should be sacked over Brexitstance – ex-Tory chancellor Lawson
FORMER Tory chancellor Lord (Nigel) Lawson has called for Philip Hammond to be sacked from the Treasury, accusing him of undermining Brexit negotiations.
Lord Lawson said that Mr Hammond’s refusal to release money now for preparations for a “no deal” Brexit was “very close to sabotage”.
But Downing Street insisted that Theresa May retained full confidence in her Chancellor and leading Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Liam Fox played down suggestions of a split in the Cabinet over Brexit preparations.
Mr Hammond said on Wednesday that he would delay until the last moment authorising millions of pounds of funding for facilities – such as beefed-up customs operations and lorry parks near ports – if talks end without a deal.
His comments led to a wave of attacks from supporters of a hard Brexit, with the Daily Mail even branding him “treacherous”.
Asked whether he should remain as Chancellor, Lord Lawson told BBC2’s Daily Politics: “He may not intend it but in practice what he is doing is very close to sabotage.”
The Conservative peer, a fervent enthusiast for Brexit, said: “The really important thing now is that we prepare for the no deal outcome and it is grossly irresponsible if we don’t.”
Asked whether this meant Mr Hammond was being irresponsible, he replied: “I fear he is, yes. You have to spend money from time to time, and there is nothing more important than preparing for what has always been the most likely outcome.”
International Trade Secretary Dr Fox insisted there was “no difference” between himself and Mr Hammond on the question of investment in facilities and staff – like lorry parks and customs operations – which might be needed if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. The International Trade Secretary told MPs in the
House of Commons: “The Chancellor says that we need to spend money only as necessary. I think that’s correct. But we also need to ensure that we spend money on all areas where contingency plans are necessary.”
At a press conference in the Foreign Office, Mr Johnson said it was right to make preparations “as and when it is necessary”.
The Foreign Secretary said: “I remain very optimistic about the talks and the progress that can be made. As for getting ready for no deal, I think the Prime Minister has made it very, very clear that we are going to get a deal, we are working for a great deal but, we must make the right preparations as and when it is necessary for a no-deal scenario.
“That’s the responsible thing to do and that’s what we are going to do. Dr Fox ducked out of a grilling on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme which was expected to focus on Cabinet infighting over Brexit, citing diary commitments.
Taking his place, Mr Hammond’s parliamentary private secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted that any apparent differences were down to “temperament”.
The Leave-backing MP said he did not see “much of a contradiction” between the Chancellor’s view on Brexit and Mrs May’s, telling Today that his boss was “clear-eyed” and has a “very realistic view” of the negotiations.
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