Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip ‘Remainer Phil’ Hammond is preparing to hold anti-Brexit talks with the European Union, according to reports.
Hammond, who is accused of having “actively prevented preparation” for a smooth break with the EU on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms — a so-called No Deal Brexit — during his time as Theresa May’s finance minister, has now put himself at the head a “Remain Alliance” on the Tory backbenches, according to The Times.
While the governing party has been committed to delivering Brexit since the 2016 referendum and 2017 snap election — at least on paper — former Remain voters make up most of its parliamentary party, and even Boris Johnson’s Cabinet, with some of their number determined to combine with the left-liberal opposition parties to thwart No Deal, or even cancel Brexit altogether.
One of Hammond’s Remain rebels told The Times that they intend to co-ordinate their efforts to force another Brexit delay with the European Union by conspiring with Brussels and EU governments directly, to ensure the bloc does not reject extension terms.
“[Our] next step is likely to be something that seeks to direct the [British] government to seek an extension,” the MP said, revealing that Hammond has maintained an “extensive” list of high-level EU contacts from his time in government, where he also served as Foreign Secretary for a spell.
“They will need to have an idea of what extension they should be asking Brussels for,” the MP explained.
“[Hammond] has a lot of respect from senior figures in Europe. They think he was one of the few sensible ones in Cabinet,” another source confirmed — although for now the 63-year-old is no longer in Cabinet, of course, having tendered his resignation to Theresa May during her final moments in office, likely in order to deny Boris Johnson the satisfaction of firing him.