Hammond accuses Boris Johnson of 'betrayal' of the referendum result with no-deal Brexit

PUBLISHED: 08:13 14 August 2019 | UPDATED: 13:34 14 August 2019

Philip Hammond on ITV's Peston programme. Photograph: ITV.

Philip Hammond on ITV's Peston programme. Photograph: ITV.

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Boris Johnson would be betraying the referendum result if he enacted a no-deal Brexit by listening to the 'unelected' saboteurs, former chancellor Philip Hammond has argued.

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Hammond has urged the Tory leader to take the UK out of the European Union with a deal in place, but he said early signs for that "are not encouraging", warning that demands to abolish the backstop had become a "wrecking" stance over a deal.

"The unelected people who pull the strings of this government know that this is a demand the EU cannot and will not accede to," the Tory backbencher wrote in The Times.

Hammond said he was busting two "great myths" over a no-deal Brexit, arguing it will be damaging to the nation - both economically and to the union - and that voters do not back the move.

"Most people in this country want to see us leave in a smooth and orderly fashion that will not disrupt lives, cost jobs or diminish living standards, whether they voted Leave or Remain in 2016," he wrote.

"Parliament faithfully reflects the view of that majority and it will make its voice heard. No-deal would be a betrayal of the 2016 referendum result. It must not happen."

Hammond also accused "some key figures in the government" of "absurdly" suggesting no-deal would boost the UK's economy.

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According to The Sun, Hammond and 20 other senior Tories have written to the PM to say his demands to abolish the backstop "set the bar so high that there is no realistic probability of a deal being done".

And the newspaper reported that a separate letter with a similar sentiment was sent to the PM with the signatures of Hammond and 20 other senior Tory MPs, including former cabinet ministers David Lidington, David Gauke, Rory Stewart and Greg Clark.

A government source accused Hammond, who went on to deny the claim, of having done "everything he could to block preparations for leaving and undermined negotiations" when chancellor.

"We are leaving on October 31 and we will be ready to do so despite the former chancellor's best efforts to the contrary," the source added.

Conservative former attorney general Dominic Grieve, who supports the People's Vote campaign for a second referendum, said Hammond was right.

"There's no mandate for a disastrous no deal, and that for a government to try and force such an outcome on the country without the public's consent would be an outrage against democracy.

"It is encouraging to see more and more Conservative MPs, including many former ministers, reaching this view.

"We live in a representative democracy and parliament will have its say - MPs elected by the people will not allow an out-of-control Government to impose no deal against the wishes of the majority of the public and of Parliament. Philip Hammond's intervention makes that perfectly clear."

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