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Philip Hammond calls on Boris Johnson to make clear MPs aren't being 'duped' into backing no-deal Brexit

2 min read

Philip Hammond suspects Boris Johnson may be attempting to “dupe” MPs into backing a “heavily camouflaged” no-deal Brexit. 

The former chancellor's claims follow an interview with John Baron, a member of the European Research Group, who said he was inclined to back Mr Johnson's agreement as a no-deal exit is possible if trade talks fail. 

Mr Hammond has now asked Mr Johnson to ensure there will be a strong future trade relationship with the European Union. 

He wrote in The Times: "My former colleague, John Baron MP, gave the game away this morning: they are being told that, once we are out, the UK will make a take-it-or-leave-it proposal for a minimum-ambition, 'Canada-minus' trade deal on the UK's terms and when the EU rejects it, the UK will leave without a trade deal at the end of 2020.

"I haven't come this far seeking to avoid no-deal in 2019 to be duped into voting for a heavily camouflaged no-deal at the end of 2020. But I am not a lost cause." 

John Baron told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme: "Theresa May's backstop could have had us locked into that arrangement indefinitely. Boris Johnson has torn up that backstop, which means that if the trade talks are not successful after we hopefully agree the deal tomorrow here then we could leave on no-deal terms."

In an attempt to win over Tory Eurosceptics, Downing Street published legal advice endorsed by Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, stating that Britain could not be trapped in the new customs arrangements.

The Prime Minister risks being scuppered by a growing row over claims that hardline Leavers will seek to use the deal passing to force a no-deal Brexit when the proposed transition deal ends in December 2020. 

But Mr Hammond added: "If the Government can reassure sceptics like me of its commitment to an ambitious future relationship under this deal, then even if it loses the vote on the amendment and has to seek an extension to the Article 50 period, it can re-present the deal to parliament in the form of the WAIB once the extension has been granted and there is no longer a risk of a crash-out on October 31."

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