Cabinet at war: Fox piles on with attack on Hammond

Hard to swallow

The international trade secretary has joined in rubbishing the chancellor's no-deal Brexit economic forecast, calling it "hard to swallow".

Fox, who is in Singapore touting UK trade opportunities to Asian governments and businesses, said the chancellor's warning, that GDP could fall and borrowing could be around £80bn a year higher by 2033/34 if Britain resorted to WTO terms, was "hard to swallow".

Speaking to the BBC, Fox said: "Some of us remember the supposed economic shock we were going to get if Britain voted to leave the European Union and the result of the referendum itself was going to cost us half a million jobs, it was going to see investors desert the UK and our economy plunge into recession.

"What has in fact happened, we've added 600,000 jobs to the economy, we saw a record number of inward investment projects land in the UK last year and our economy has continued to grow."

He added: "That was over a two-year time horizon, so projections over a 15-year time horizon are rather hard to swallow."

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The disgraced former defence secretary had previously said that a post-Brexit deal with the EU would be 'the easiest in human history'.

His comments follow Theresa May's repeated claims that no agreement with the EU 'would not be a walk in the park' but 'wouldn't be the end of the world'.

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She said the government was putting in place measures to ensure it could 'make a success of no deal' and remained confident it could do similar with a 'good deal' – which she maintained it was possible to agree.

She added that Philip Hammond was highlighting 'work in progress' figures released in January when he published a letter just hours after the government started revealing its no-deal Brexit preparations.

The chancellor was accused by Brexiteer Tory backbenchers of launching another 'project fear' by claiming GDP could fall and borrowing could rise.

Hammond said such an impact on GDP would have 'large fiscal consequences'.

He also said this analysis was undergoing a 'process of refinement' ahead of a parliamentary vote on any deal.

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