Brexit: Chancellor Philip Hammond says second referendum is 'perfectly credible proposition'

Hammond appears to exert pressure on May, saying a new referendum 'deserves to be tested in parliament'

Tom Barnes
Thursday 04 April 2019 08:14
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Final Say: Phillip Hammond says 'confirmatory referendum' deserves to be tested in parliament

Philip Hammond has said there is a “perfectly credible” case for giving the British people a Final Say on Brexit.

The chancellor suggested although he was unsure there was currently a majority in parliament to allow for a second public vote to be facilitated, it “deserved to be tested”.

Asked on ITV’s Peston programme about negotiations between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn aimed at breaking the Brexit deadlock in Parliament, Mr Hammond refused to be drawn on details of the talks.

However, he said it was common knowledge a fresh referendum had been “one of the issues that has been debated.”

He added: “It’s a perfectly credible proposition, some ideas have been put forward that are not deliverable, they’re not negotiable. But the confirmatory referendum idea, a lot of people will disagree with it, I’m not sure there’s a majority in parliament for it, but it’s a perfectly credible proposition and it deserves to be tested in parliament.”

It is not the first time the chancellor has hinted that he believes there is a case for a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU).

During an interview with Sky News in March, he described a Final Say vote as an idea that “deserves to be considered”.

The prime minister and Mr Corbyn took part in talks on Wednesday aimed at trying to find a deal that can win the support of a majority of MPs in the Commons.

However, Ms May has come under fire from her own party for engaging with the Labour leader, a man branded a “Marxist antisemite” by one of her backbenchers.

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn has said the meeting did not yield “as much change as [he] had expected”.

The chancellor also indicated that compromising on the issue of a customs union could be a price worth paying for a deal.

“If that's what we have to do then let’s look at that,” he said.

Mr Hammond said that “some kind of customs arrangement is clearly going to be part of the future structure”.

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He added: “When you enter into a negotiation like this to find a compromise way forward, both parties have to give something up. There is going to be pain on both sides.”

The chancellor also conceded Tory manifesto promises, which included leaving the customs union and single market, would not all be able to be delivered because the Conservatives did not win a majority.

The promise to leave the EU was the “central commitment that we have made and we have to deliver and the rest of it is somewhat secondary”, he said.

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