Chancellor puts Boris back in box ahead of Brexit summit

PUBLISHED: 12:51 03 July 2018 | UPDATED: 12:52 03 July 2018

Chancellor Philip Hammond

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Philip Hammond has called for the concerns of business to be taken seriously ahead of Friday's key Chequers Brexit summit and days after Boris Johnson is alleged to have said "F*** business".

The comments came at Treasury questions in the Commons after warnings from firms including Airbus and BMW about Brexit were also dismissed by Cabinet ministers including leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt and disgraced former defence secretary Liam Fox.

Foreign secretary Mr Johnson is reported to have said "F*** business" when asked about industry concerns.

The chancellor told MPs the government needed to agree on a Brexit which "delivers the needs of business".

Ministers are under increasing pressure to spell out what type of relationship with the EU the UK should pursue.

Prime minister Theresa May has promised more details in a White Paper that will be published after Friday's cabinet get-together at her official country residence.

Mr Hammond, responding to a question from Tory former minister Bob Neill in the Commons, said: "I think the views of business, which is the great generator of employment and wealth and prosperity in our country, should always be taken very carefully into account.

"We have to listen to what business is telling us and make sure that we deliver a Brexit which delivers the needs of business."

Earlier in the session a smile flashed across the Chancellor's face when Labour former minister Chris Leslie asked Treasury ministers if they knew what the "mythical third customs plan" was.

The plan, to be presented to ministers on Friday, is said to offer "the best of both worlds" - an independent trade policy and friction-free trade.

Mr Leslie said: "It's getting completely ridiculous now. When the Treasury - either the chancellor of the chief secretary - are finally allowed to have a look at this mythical third customs plan from Number 10, will they at least have the integrity and the honesty to say that if it doesn't deliver the exact same benefits for Scotland or for that matter England, Wales and Northern Ireland they'll come to this House and actually say so?"

Treasury chief secretary Liz Truss responded: "We want to secure as frictionless trade as possible with the EU but also get those opportunities with the rest of the world."

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