WATCH: Philip Hammond takes on Brexiteers

PUBLISHED: 14:10 12 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:30 12 October 2018

Chancellor Philip Hammond wants the UK to remain closely aligned to the EU
Photo: PA / Brian Lawless

Chancellor Philip Hammond wants the UK to remain closely aligned to the EU Photo: PA / Brian Lawless

PA Wire/PA Images

Philip Hammond has come out fighting as the row over the Irish border backstop looks set to tear the cabinet apart.

The chancellor has risked angering cabinet ministers who oppose removing the time-limit on the UK remaining in the European Union’s customs territory by demanding close link to Europe even after 2020.

Cabinet big-hitters including foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, environment secretary Michael Gove and trade secretary Liam Fox are said to be ready to quit over the row.

READ: Crunch time: PM abandons pledge on Irish border backstop

Pensions secretary Esther McVey pointedly refused to endorse the PM’s plan during the latest cabinet meeting and international development secretary Penny Mordaunt and the leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom also made it clear they held deep concerns.

Remaining in the EU customs territory would remove the need for a hard border in Ireland.

But Hammond, who has long argued for a soft Brexit, told Bloomberg TV: “We are not going to remain in anything indefinitely, we are very clear this has to be a temporary period.

“But it is true that there needs to be a period, probably following the transition period that we have negotiated, before we enter into our long-term partnership, just because of the time it will take to implement the systems required.

“It’s very important to us that business doesn’t have to make two sets of changes, that there will be effectively continuity from the current set-up through the transition period into any temporary period and then a single set of changes when we move into our long-term new economic partnership with the European Union.”

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