Brexit news: Hammond dangles promise of cash injection for public services if MPs back May's deal

Chancellor also publicly rejected calls for an emergency fund to deal with knife violence

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Thursday 07 March 2019 09:54 GMT
Hammond dangles promise of cash injection for public services if MPs back May's deal

Philip Hammond has dangled the prospect of extra cash for public services if MPs back Theresa May's Brexit deal amid a mounting backlash over the impact of police cuts on rising violence.

The chancellor said he could release the money set aside for a no-deal Brexit if Britain leaves the EU smoothly, providing "more money still that we can put into public services over the next three years".

He also warned Brexiteers to think "very, very carefully" about rejecting Ms May's blueprint in a crunch vote next week, as Britain's departure from the EU risked being delayed if it is defeated.

In a sign of cabinet tensions, he also publicly rejected calls from home secretary Sajid Javid and police chiefs for an emergency fund to deal with knife violence after a spate of fatal stabbings in recent days.

Mr Javid directly contradicted the prime minister over the link between the rising knife violence and cuts to policing that Ms May presided over as home secretary.

Mr Hammond appeared to dismiss the calls, ordering the police to find resources from other areas to deal with the spike in knife violence.

"If you've got an immediate problem, and this is an immediate problem, you cannot solve it by recruiting and training more officers - that takes time," he told the Today programme.

"What you have to do is redirect your resources, change your priorities, to deal with the immediate priority issue."

The chancellor argued that securing a Brexit deal would allow him to turn on the spending taps, as the government scrambles to win support from MPs ahead of the so-called meaningful vote on Tuesday.

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He said: "If we get the right Brexit deal done, and a smooth exit from the European Union so that we can release the money that we've set aside to deal with the possible disruption of a no-deal exit, then that will give us more money still that we can put into public services over the next three years."

If MPs reject the deal, Mr Hammond argued it was "likely that the House of Commons will vote to extend the Article 50 procedure, to not leave the European Union without a deal, and where we go thereafter is highly uncertain."

He added: "For those people who are passionate about ensuring that we leave the European Union on time it surely must be something that they need to think very, very carefully about now because they run risk of us moving away from their preferred course of action if we don't get this deal through on Tuesday."

If the deal is voted down, the prime minister has promised to allow the Commons a vote on whether to veto a no-deal exit on Wednesday, and a further vote on the prospect of a short delay to Brexit the following day.

Mr Hammond refused to be drawn on how he would vote, amid fierce speculation on whether the prime minister would allow her cabinet to have a free vote to avoid resignations.

"I'm not going to speculate about something that hasn't happened and I don't think will happen because I think the government is very clear where the will of parliament is on this," he told Today.

"Parliament will vote not to leave the European Union without a deal next Wednesday, I have a high degree of confidence about that.

"But we do need to have clear confirmation. It's right that parliament should make that decision and then we'll put the question about extending Article 50 and how we try to break this impasse by finding a consensus."

It comes as frustrated EU officials have urged the UK to come up with a workable solution by Friday to resolve the impasse over the Irish backstop.

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