Philip Ham­mond should be sacked over Brex­it­stance – ex-Tory chan­cel­lor Law­son

Western Mail - - NEWS -

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.

> Chan­cel­lor Philip Ham­mond

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