No-deal Brexit would be­tray UK: Ham­mond

Bri­tain in dan­ger of be­com­ing ‘in­ward-look­ing lit­tle Eng­land’

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

A no-deal Brexit would be­tray Bri­tain’s de­ci­sion to leave the Euro­pean Union, for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Philip Ham­mond said Wed­nes­day, as he slammed Prime Min­is­ter Boris John­son’s “wreck­ing” ap­proach to ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Ham­mond, who quit as chan­cel­lor just hours be­fore John­son took over from Theresa May on July 24, said there was no pop­u­lar or par­lia­men­tary man­date for a no-deal Brexit, say­ing most peo­ple wanted an or­derly exit from the EU. “No-deal would be a be­trayal of the 2016 ref­er­en­dum re­sult. It must not hap­pen,” he wrote in The Times news­pa­per.

He said it could turn Bri­tain into “a di­min­ished and in­ward-look­ing lit­tle Eng­land.”

The Bri­tish par­lia­ment three times re­jected the with­drawal agree­ment May ne­go­ti­ated with Brus­sels, with many MPS trou­bled by the “back­stop” – a mech­a­nism that would keep the UK in EU cus­toms arrangemen­ts to pre­vent a hard border on the is­land of Ire­land.

Ham­mond said the shift of po­si­tion from seek­ing changes to the back­stop to de­mand­ing its re­moval “is a pivot from a tough ne­go­ti­at­ing stance to a wreck­ing one,” set­ting an im­pos­si­bly high bar.

“This is a de­mand the EU can­not, and will not, ac­cede to.

“It’s time for our gov­ern­ment to demon­strate its com­mit­ment to a gen­uine ne­go­ti­a­tion with the EU to achieve a deal.”

Bri­tain is due to leave the Euro­pean Union on Oc­to­ber 31.

John­son has pledged to stick to this date, whether a deal can be struck with Brus­sels or not.

Ham­mond said a no-deal Brexit would also threaten the United King­dom’s integrity as it risked col­laps­ing the peace ac­cords in North­ern Ire­land and trig­ger­ing a ref­er­en­dum on the province leav­ing the UK and join­ing the Repub­lic of Ire­land, an EU mem­ber state.

It would also lead to a sec­ond se­ces­sion ref­er­en­dum in Scot­land and the likely break-up of the UK, Ham­mond claimed.

He also said US talk of a “great trade deal” meant a trade deal that was great for them, open­ing up Bri­tain to US pro­duce that would “de­stroy Bri­tish agri­cul­ture.”

Ham­mond warned that if par­lia­ment wanted to go down a par­tic­u­lar route to pre­vent a no-deal Brexit, the means would emerge to al­low that to hap­pen.

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