Brexit: Philip Hammond 'welcomes' opportunity to work with Labour on leaving EU

Mr Hammond also brushed aside a series of damaging leaks made against him by colleagues in the Cabinet, adding: 'I don't feel particularly enfeebled'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 18 July 2017 14:34
Comments
During the session Mr Hammond added: 'I don't feel particularly enfeebled'
During the session Mr Hammond added: 'I don't feel particularly enfeebled'

Philip Hammond has said he welcomes the opportunity to work with other parties to reach a consensus on leaving the EU - as he dismissed reports of colleagues briefing against him.

Confronted with reports that Mr Hammond is prepared to champion a longer transition period for Britain to remain in the tariff-free single market, the Chancellor said he welcomed the opportunity to work with other parties on Britain’s exit from the bloc.

Chris Leslie, a leading supporter of a soft Brexit and a former shadow minister, pointed to recent analysis from the Office of Budget Responsibility, the UK's fiscal watchdog, which he said indicated that a hard Brexit “presents the biggest threat to our national debt".

Speaking during Treasury questions in the Commons, Mr Leslie asked: ”So if the reports are true that the Chancellor is prepared to maybe champion a longer transition period for the UK in the single market, can I not just say that's welcome news but it's also something that might be able to secure a lot of support on all sides of the House?“

Mr Hammond replied: “I welcome your contribution and in an issue as important to our nation's future as our exit from the European Union, I welcome any opportunity to build consensus across the House and across the nation.

“You are absolutely right to draw attention to what the OBR pointed out, that even a very small decline in our productivity performance would add huge amounts to debt and reduce by significant amounts our projected growth in GDP.

But asked by his Conservative colleague, Sir Edward Leigh, to assure MPs he was “absolutely, personally and enthusiastically committed” to leaving the single market and customs union, the Chancellor replied confirmed he was, adding: “Those are matters of legal necessity”.

Mr Hammond also used the Treasury questions session in the Commons to brush aside jibes from the opposition benches, regarding a series of damaging briefings against him from his own Cabinet colleagues over the weekend, including claims he made sexist comments, said public sector workers were “overpaid”, and attempting to sabotage the Brexit process.

Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow city minister, said: “Are we more likely to see a transitional Chancellor than a transitional [Brexit] deal?”

Responding to a description of him as “an enfeebled Chancellor” by the shadow treasury minister, Peter Dowd, Mr Hammond responded: “I don’t know what planet you live on but I don’t feel particularly enfeebled.”

Mr Hammonds comments after Theresa May reprimanded Cabinet ministers for the damaging leaks and briefs against the Chancellor, telling them the stories were seen as “a case of colleagues not taking their responsibilities seriously”.

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