Remainer Chancellor Tells Big Business MPs Will Stop Clean Brexit in Leaked Call

Hammond
Jack Taylor/Getty Images
VICTORIA FRIEDMAN

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip “Remainer Phil” Hammond told corporate bosses that senior MPs would stop a “No Deal” Brexit — where Britain makes a clean break from the EU — according to a leaked telephone call.

The audio, obtained by The Telegraph, also outlines how the Remain-supporting Chancellor had discussed how Article 50, the treaty mechanism for leaving the EU, could be extended in a call with the 330 business people following Prime Minister Theresa May’s historic parliamentary defeat on her Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday.

Raising the issue early on in the conversation of whether “the option of No Deal” can be taken “off the table,” Mr Hammond said: “Everyone on the call will be aware that a bill has been tabled today and amendments will be tabled on Monday by backbenchers from across the House which would have the effect of removing the threat of No Deal.

“I can simply as a parliamentarian say it is clear to me there is a large majority in the Commons that is opposed to No Deal in any circumstances.”

The second issue raised was whether Article 50 could be extended.

“The simple answer is that the EU would not consider the request for the extension of the Article 50 deadline unless or until we have a clear plan to go forward,” Mr Hammond said, echoing statements by experts and the prime minister on Wednesday, who pledged that there would be no second referendum or extension of Article 50 for the purposes of stopping or delaying Brexit.

The Chancellor continued: “The sequence has to be first to reach out to opinion across the Commons to establish the terms on which we can build a majority for a way forward in the Commons.

“If necessary go back to the EU to agree changes that are necessary to deliver that consensus. And at that time, if more time is going to be required, to negotiate that with the EU.”

The Remainer, who holds arguably the second-most important position in Government, also ruled out what her termed “unicorns” — namely “ideas that would involve fundamental renegotiation of the deal we have done with the EU,” which would include proposals set out Tuesday by European Research Group (ERG) vice-chairman Steve Baker MP, who said the Government should return to the negotiating table and open talks on the free trade agreement that the bloc had reportedly offered the United Kingdom over a year ago.

These revelations represent the latest attempts by the Chancellor to frustrate Brexit or keep Britain as closely aligned as possible to the political bloc, subjected to huge swathes of the EU’s rules and regulations.

Hammond’s Treasury published a letter in August that said a No Deal Brexit would result in “large fiscal consequences” — after then-Brexit secretary Dominic Raab had assured the Government the country was well-prepared for a WTO exit. The letter was seemingly published without the knowledge or consent of Number 10.

In October, dozens of MPs called for Hammond’s sacking after he published a series of doom-laden, anti-Brexit economic forecasts.

The following month, he claimed No Deal would do harm to the economy in predictions condemned as “inaccurate,” with other commentators accusing him of stoking “Project Fear” — a series of dire predictions about the result of a vote to leave the EU by his predecessor George Osborne which turned out to be overwhelmingly false.

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