Philip Hammond insists Brexit deal is ‘better than staying in the EU’
Philip Hammond has insisted Theresa May’s Brexit plan is better for Britain than remaining in the European Union.
The Chancellor said Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement provided an opportunity to “bring the country back together” more than two years after the referendum - just a day after Mrs May refused to say her plan would be better than staying in the bloc.
Asked if he thought the current deal was better than remaining in the EU, he told the BBC's Today Programme: “I believe so. I do.”
Pressed about his backing for Remain prior to the referendum result, Mr Hammond said: “I campaigned originally in the referendum to remain in the European Union but the outcome was that a majority of people in this country voted to leave."
He added: "The country is split down the middle and what we have got to do now is bring the country back together and move on so that we can take advantage of the opportunities available to Britain in the future.
"Divided countries are not successful countries. It isn’t a question of one side or the other winning.
"The country is divided and if we want to be successful in the future, we’ve got to find a way forward which brings the country back together with a solution that takes us out of the European Union.
"But it must assure those who were worried about leaving that we will have a future trading, security and economic partnership with our nearest neighbours in Europe so Britain can go on benefitting from the prosperity opportunities that that gives us."
His remarks come after the Prime Minister was repeatedly grilled on a radio phone-in show to say whether life after Brexit would be better than if Britain stayed in the bloc.
Pressed for a third time, she said: "It's going to be different and I believe we can build a better future outside the EU."
Mr Hammond is meanwhile one of two top Tories attending the DUP conference in Belfast this weekend.
The Chancellor told the Today programme that DUP leader Arlene Foster had not told him that she felt Mrs May’s Brexit plans were a greater threat to the UK than a government led by Jeremy Corbyn, as she told The Times.
Top Brexiteer Boris Johnson will also address the DUP faithful in a speech on Saturday afternoon.