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No-deal Brexit could turn UK into 'a diminished and inward-looking little England', warns Hammond

He said that claims a no-deal Brexit would be positive were “absurd”, and called Johnson’s pledge to bin the backstop “wrecking”.

Philip Hammond leaves 11 Downing Street in Westminster, London.
Philip Hammond leaves 11 Downing Street in Westminster, London.
Image: Dominic Lipinski

THE FORMER UK Chancellor Philip Hammond has made a number of warnings about the risks of a no-deal Brexit, calling claims that the UK would be better off financially in a no-deal Brexit “absurd”. 

Writing in The Times today, Hammond also chastised Johnson for “the move from demanding changes to the backstop to demanding its total removal”, which he called “a pivot from a tough negotiating stance to a wrecking one”.

Hammond, who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2016, resigned from Cabinet upon Boris Johnson’s ascent to the office of Prime Minister. He cited concerns over a no-deal Brexit as the reason for his resignation, saying that the “headroom” built into public finances for Brexit could only be used if there was a Brexit deal.

The House of Commons has rejected the current Brexit deal, the Withdrawal Agreement, on three separate occasions. Despite the fact that Boris Johnson voted for the deal on 29 March, he’s vowed to get a better deal by pledging to “scrap the backstop”.

In the column today, Hammond said that this “wrecking” policy was a threat to the union:

“The clear risk that a no-deal exit will collapse the fragile peace settlement in Northern Ireland, and lead ultimately to a border poll and inevitably that a change in the status in Northern Ireland would lead to a further referendum in Scotland and the likely break-up of the UK.”

He said that this would mean that the UK would become “a diminished and inward-looking little England, inexorably squeezed between the emerging economic power blocs”.

He also warned about a free trade deal with the US, which has been cited by Boris Johnson and Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees Mogg as a lucrative replacement to the close economic and trading ties with the EU post-Brexit:

When our American friends talk about doing ‘a great trade deal’, they mean a trade deal that is great for America – one that opens the UK’s food market to American agricultural produce, produced to American standards, in a move that will ultimately destroy British agriculture.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Monday that the US government wanted “to move very quickly” on a trade deal with Britain after it leaves the EU, comments which were welcomed by Brexiteers.

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