Brexit-supporting Tories have slammed Chancellor Philip “Remainer Phil” Hammond’s comments on MPs blocking a “No Deal” Brexit as “treacherous” and “totally incompetent”.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, long accused of pushing for the weakest possible form of Brexit from within Cabinet and using his role at HM Treasury to stall preparations for an EU exit without a formal agreement on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms, was recorded assuring corporate bosses that MPs would block No Deal in Parliament in a leaked call.
“He seems to have breached collective responsibility of the Cabinet, where the official position is still no deal is better than a bad deal,” complained Brexiteer backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg.
“It is not intelligent politics nor an intelligent negotiating strategy [to take No Deal off the table],” he added. “No sensible person goes into a negotiation and says I will agree with whatever you want because I have to have any deal. If the Government connived in changing the law to stop Brexit it would be a very good way of alienating voters.”
Remainer Chancellor Tells Big Business MPs Will Stop Clean Brexit in Leaked Call https://t.co/mL9RKOLajg
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 17, 2019
Asking about the leaked call in parliamentary questions to Cabinet Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom, Christopher Chope MP queried: “Can I ask my Right Honourable Friend whether we can have an early debate on collective Cabinet responsibility and what it means in current circumstances, and will my Right Honourable Friend undertake to lead that debate so she can explain to the House the frustration we all feel on her behalf at having the 2017 Conservative manifesto undermined by treacherous comments from our own Cabinet colleagues?”
“My Honourable Friend is really tempting me but I can resist,” Leadsom replied tellingly. “We will deliver on the will of the people as expressed in the referendum.”
She also told the left-wing Scottish National Party that “if you take no deal off the table and you stop preparing for no deal then for a sensible government that would be totally an incompetent thing to do.”
Historian: Queen Should Suspend Parliament to Stop Remain MPs from Blocking Brexit https://t.co/DOEMxaf0T3
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 16, 2019
“You cannot take no deal off the table. If we don’t get agreement, the law says we leave on March 29. Even if we do it is extremely unwise to do so,” another Cabinet minister told The Telegraph.
“I think the Government can have only one stated policy. It is not to take no deal off the table. We can’t have rogue elements trying to bounce the rest of the Government into a policy they have not agreed,” they warned.
However, Remainers within Government appear to be even more restive, with George Osborne’s Evening Standard reporting that several Cabinet members have “given private assurances… that they will refuse to vote against a crucial amendment empowering the House of Commons” to stop No Deal, with “A bigger group of about 20 middle-ranking and junior ministers… threatening to resign” over the issue.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he will not hold any discussions with the prime minister on how to take Brexit forward until she agrees to take No Deal off the table.