Government Insider: Tory Brexit Truce Will Not Last

Fox Hammond Collage
Oli Scarff/AFP/Carl Court/Getty

Government insiders are disputing the substance of a recent coming together by Philip Hammond — the Cabinet’s leading Remainer — and Dr. Liam Fox — a committed Brexit supporter.

Hammond, the chancellor of the exchequer, has long been said to be campaigning for a so-called Soft Brexit, which would keep the United Kingdom within the EU’s Customs Union and the Single Market — with its associated Free Movement immigration regime — after Britain leaves the European Union.

Dr Fox, the International Trade Secretary, is thought to favour a Clean Brexit — or, in Remainer parlance, ‘Hard’ Brexit — not least because a softer alternative might leave the EU in control of Britain’s trade policy, taking away his department’s power to sign a string of lucrative free trade agreements with interested third countries such as Australia and the United States.

Infighting has been rife whilst Prime Minister Theresa May has been on holiday, with Remainers and Leavers briefing against one another constantly.

A joint article by Hammond and Dr. Fox in The Sunday Telegraph, pledging that Britain’s eventual Brexit arrangements would contain no provisions amounting to a form of continued EU membership by the “back door”, was supposed to quell the constant stream of brief and counter-brief — but at least one Government insider is unconvinced.

The unnamed minister is reported to have told The Telegraph he has no faith the truce will hold, saying: “I don’t believe it. Hammond does not have a high regard for Fox, he holds him in contempt. He’s very superior. Inevitably this truce will fall apart.”

This was apparently disputed by a Whitehall official, however, who told the newspaper they had “seen them work very closely together, they both take their responsibilities seriously, I believe they do have a strong working relationship”.

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