Former chancellor Philip Hammond is calling on the government to grow up and ‘stop throwing tantrums’ over its Brexit agenda.
"I should be voting against it, this is not the time to be holding a general election. It's a time for cool heads and grown-up government." @PhilipHammondUK says the government should get on with #Brexit business and stop "throwing tantrums".#Ridge: https://t.co/348tdJD8iu pic.twitter.com/IZPaDbcDHA— Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) October 27, 2019
“This is not the time to be holding a general election,” said Philip Hammond on Sky’s Sophie Ridge On Sunday.
Hammond, who had the Conservative whip removed for backing attempts to block a no-deal Brexit, insisted that he would be voting against holding a winter general election.
He said: “This is not the time to be holding a general election.
“It’s a time for cool heads and grown-up government.
“Parliament has indicated clearly that it is willing to support this deal.
“The prime minister said he wants a deal. These deadlines – October 31 – are meaningless.
“The key thing now is to get the deal properly scrutinised in Parliament.
“That doesn’t mean delaying it by months, it means giving parliament a few days, a couple of weeks, to scrutinise the bill, amend it if necessary and then we can make progress.
He continued: “The government should stop making threats, stop throwing tantrums, and get on with the grown-up business of doing its business.
“Just because it can’t get exactly what it wants doesn’t mean it should stop working.”
Hammond added that “probably would not” back a second referendum amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, but could support a customs union.
He told Sophie that the bill has two problems; it splits Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK and it could be a route to a no-deal exit at the end of 2020.
“We need to resolve it with a deal that takes us out of the European Union but a deal that also ensures that our economy will remain aligned with our biggest market,” said Hammond.
“If the UK has a very close relationship with the EU then that means that trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will flow freely without any interruptions.
“But if we have a relationship with a WTO (World Trade Organisation) then there will be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the UK and that will be extremely damaging to the UK.”
The Runnymede and Weybridge MP said he would run as an independent at the next election if the Conservative whip is not restored to him, adding that he would not seek to “curry favour” with Boris Johnson in order to be able to run as a Tory.
Hammond also claimed that he never underestimated the prime minister’s ability to get a deal.
“[Boris] is a very slick political operator,” said Hammond.
“But the deal that Boris has got was a deal that was available to Theresa May months ago.
“Pivoting to accept something that has previously been on offer is an achievement maybe – but a limited achievement.”