Philip Hammond: No deal would be a betrayal of our economic future
PUBLISHED: 14:36 29 January 2019
No deal would be a “betrayal of our economic future”, chancellor Philip Hammond has told MPs.
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He claimed the prime minister’s deal was the “only way forward that protects our democracy and our economy”, warning the “stark” alternatives were no Brexit or no deal.
Hammond also urged the Labour leadership to “sit down and engage with the prime minister so that we can solve this problem in the national interest.”
His comments during Commons Treasury questions came as shadow chancellor John McDonnell branded Hammond “weak” and called on him to “stand up to the prime minister to insist she rules out a no-deal”.
Hammond said: “We are absolutely determined to avoid no deal but the way you avoid no deal is to deliver a deal. As the prime minister has said from this despatch box many times, the choices are stark.
“It’s do the deal or face no deal or face no Brexit. No Brexit would be a betrayal of the democratic decision of the British people. No deal would be a betrayal of our economic future. The deal is the only way forward that protects our democracy and our economy.”
McDonnell said that Theresa May’s deal had been voted down by a majority of 230.
He said: “The Bank of England has warned that we are potentially facing an economic crisis even more severe than the financial crisis of 2008. Past holders of his great office of state would have had the strength and authority around the cabinet table to prevent a prime minister behaving so recklessly.
“So can he tell me, at a time when the country is facing a potential national economic crisis, has there ever been a chancellor so weak?”
Hammond replied: “If he believes what he’s just told the House, then he wants to get off his backside, get the leader of the opposition off his backside, get themselves over to Downing Street, sit down and engage with the prime minister so that we can solve this problem in the national interest.”
Leaving the EU with a deal, he said, “remains the Government’s top priority”, adding: “But as a responsible government we are of course also making preparations to ensure the country is ready for every eventuality across all sectors of the economy.”
Responding to Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable’s question on the cost of no-deal preparations, Hammond said: “Some of the expenditure that’s being undertaken by departments will be required in any case for our post-EU future, whether we leave with a deal or no deal.
“But I’ve made no bones about the fact that some of the expenditure is of a precautionary nature, the expenditure will be nugatory if the deal is agreed and we leave with a smooth trajectory.
“But every responsible government across all areas of activity undertakes expenditure to deal with potential contingencies, to ensure that the country is prepared for eventualities that may arise. It’s proper that we should do so.”
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