'Treacherous' - Chancellor's leaked Brexit comments denounced by Chope
PUBLISHED: 16:34 17 January 2019 | UPDATED: 18:06 17 January 2019
Comments made by Philip Hammond that a no-deal Brexit could be “taken off the table” have been called “treacherous” by a Brexiteer MP.
In the leaked conference call transcript, obtained by The Telegraph, the chancellor also said that Article 50 could be “rescinded.”
Eurosceptic former minister Sir Christopher Chope suggested during Business Questions that Hammond was undermining Theresa May with the comments.
He said: “Can I ask if we can have an early debate on ‘collective Cabinet responsibility’ and what it means in current circumstances?”
Chope, the MP for Christchurch, made headlines in June 2018 when he blocked a private member bill to make upskirting a criminal offence.
He asked leader of the commons Andrea Leadsom if she would lead the debate, so “she can explain to the House the frustration we all feel on her behalf,” adding that the 2017 Conservative manifesto was being: “Undermined by treacherous comments from her own Cabinet colleagues.”
Leadsom replied: “My honourable friend is really tempting me but I can resist.
“All of my Cabinet colleagues are absolutely in agreement that we will deliver on the will of the people as expressed in the referendum of 2016.
“We will be leaving the European Union on March 29, that remains government policy and we will continue to prepare for all eventualities.”
Hammond’s call took place on Tuesday night after the prime minister’s Brexit deal was voted down in the Commons.
Two questions were raised by the chancellor in the conference; whether Article 50 can be revoked and whether the option of no deal can be “taken off the table.”
A cross-party Bill from Conservative MP Nick Boles was also spoken about. The Bill aims to force the Government to extend Article 50 if a Brexit deal is not reached, according to The Telegraph.
Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay and business secretary Greg Clark, alongside business leaders, were quick to seek assurances from Hammond that a no-deal could be ruled out.
The chancellor said: “The government is not in control of this. I am only telling you what information I have been able to glean.
“My understanding is that because the bill being brought forward will simply and solely rescind the Article 50 notice, the legal opinion that they have is that that will meet the test that the European Court of Justice has laid down for unilateral recision of an Article 50 notice.
“It is not within their power to mandate any future course of action, that would be for a Government to do.”
A Treasury spokesman confirmed the phone call took place shortly after the vote on Tuesday, but would not confirm any details.