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Press releases

Cabinet row over Brexit transition as Hammond ally slams 'fantasy land' Brexiteers

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Cabinet ministers were again at loggerheads last night with reports of fresh splits over the UK's post-Brexit migration system.

An ally of Chancellor Philip Hammond accused Brexit-backing ministers of living in a “fantasy land” and taking "ideological positions".

Last week Mr Hammond said there would be a “business as usual” period during which the UK-EU relationship - including on migration - would continue much as it is now.

But in retaliation over the weekend International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said any continuation of free movement would not “keep faith” with the Brexit vote.

In a direct swipe at Mr Hammond he added that any plan for the transitional arrangements should be “agreed by the Cabinet” rather than “an individual”.

To compound the row former Brexit minister David Jones told the Sunday Telegraph ministers who backed quitting the EU had been kept “out of the loop” on Mr Hammond’s plans.

But one furious minister told the Daily Telegraph: "Hammond is on top of his argument. Fox, Gove and Johnson are in fantasy land, they don't have a clue. They are taking ideological positions."

And another told the paper: "Liam can't bring himself to deal with the reality of what has been unleashed by the decision to leave the European Union. It's empty rhetoric without a viable alternative."

A Cabinet minister told the Guardian that Mr Hammond had laid out a “sensible approach” and that migration controls would have to be introduced after some time.

Tory backbencher and Brexit campaigner Iain Duncan Smith urged his colleagues to keep their disagreements to themselves.

He told the Guardian: “Conservative backbenchers now wish cabinet members would practise what some are preaching and that they ‘transition’ from saying too much about Europe to saying nothing at all."

The former Work and Pensions Secretary added the transition should "last up to two years" - despite Mr Hammond saying it could last up to three.


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