Spreadsheet Phil heads to Europe on tour to deliver message Britain 'still cares'
Chancellor and cabinet remainer Philip Hammond has been dispatched on a Brexit charm offensive, with a brief to assure European counterparts and business leaders that Britain "still cares" about them.
The man dubbed "Spreadsheet Phil" for his powder-dry demeanour is visiting European Union members Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal as part of his tour.
His first stop is Norway - which is outside the EU but is in the European Economic Area and part of the single market.
Its potential post-Brexit model has been rejected by Theresa May because it would not give control over laws or immigration and would require continued payments to Brussels, making it anathema to the Hard Brexiteers inside and outside the cabinet.
The tour comes as the UK prepares to reveal further details of its approach to the next phase of the Brexit process, which will focus on a transitional deal for the period after leaving the bloc in March 2019 and the future trading relationship with Brussels.
You may also want to watch:
Mr Hammond, the loudest cabinet voice for retaining close economic ties with the EU post-Brexit, had been seen as frozen out of decision-making, with other senior members of Mrs May's cabinet poised to deliver set-piece speeches in the coming weeks.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will set out his views tomorrow, while the prime minister will travel to Munich for a speech on security arrangements on Saturday.
- 1 Tory MP blames 'chaotic parents' for children going to school hungry
- 2 Boris Johnson 'hid in bedroom' to avoid grilling on Brexit stance days before becoming PM
- 3 Danny Dyer praised for criticisms of Tory party - pointing out Etonians can't run the country
- 4 George Osborne says it is 'game over' for Boris Johnson over free school meals
- 5 UKIP set to select 'Dr Gammons' as candidate for London mayoral election
- 6 Liz Truss' department slammed for false claim about cost of soy sauce after Brexit
- 7 Andy Burnham could have been 'halfway through tenure as PM by now', claims commentator
- 8 Minister sparks concerns about pig semen after Brexit
- 9 Minister says he 'doesn't understand' accusation he's starving kids in holidays
- 10 Piers Morgan calls Boris Johnson a 'blustering buffoon' in attack on PM's handling of Covid-19 pandemic
Further speeches will be delivered by David Davis, the Brexit secretary (on how Britain's businesses will maintain high standards), Cabinet Office minister David Lidington (on the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and international trade secretary and disgraced former defence secretary Liam Fox (on how the UK will forge new trade deals).
Mr Hammond is not scheduled to make any major speech.
He said: "I am taking the message to Europe that, while we are leaving the EU, Britain still cares about its relationships with the countries, citizens and businesses with whom we share a close history and common values.
"We look forward to agreeing a new, deep and special partnership with the EU that keeps our relationship growing strongly in the future."
Become a Supporter
The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.