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Philip Hammond warns Boris Johnson he can't 'control' impact of no-deal Brexit

3 min read

Philip Hammond has warned Boris Johnson that Britain "can't control" the impact of leaving the European Union without a deal.

The Chancellor said "many of the levers" that would affect how a no-deal Brexit deal will play out were not in Britain's hands.

The comments mark Mr Hammond's latest intervention in the debate over the next Prime Minister's Brexit plans.

Both Mr Johnson and rival Jeremy Hunt have said they would be willing to leave the EU without a deal if Brussels does not agree to make changes to the agreement thrashed out by Theresa May.

But, asked by the BBC's Panorama if the UK could control such an outcome, Mr Hammond said: "We can't because many of the levers are held by others - the EU 27 or private business. We can seek to persuade them but we can't control it."

He added: “We can prepare to ensure that goods flow freely into the UK through Dover in all circumstances. We have no way of ensuring that goods flow freely out of Dover and through Calais, because that’s entirely in the hands of the French...

"The French can dial that up or dial it down, just the same as the Spanish for years have dialled up or dialled down the length of the queues at the border going into Gibraltar."

The warning comes after Mr Hammond said a no-deal Brexit could blow a £90bn hole in the public finances, undermining both Conservative candidates' tax and spending pledges.

The Chancellor has also hinted that he would vote to stop the next Prime Minister from taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal if he is consigned to the Tory backbenches.

But Mr Johnson on Saturday hit out at the "vaporous negativity that has been rising from certain sections of the political establishment" over the past three years on the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

He added: "We must be ready for it because that is the only way to be convincing to our European friends. If they think we’re going to bottle it again they simply won’t give us the deal we need."

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis meanwhile told Panorama that officials had never "believed" in the no-deal planning they had been asked to carry out by ministers.

"I've got to be able to say to you 'if this doesn't work we'll leave anyway' and you've got to believe it," the Tory MP said.

"And for you to believe it I've got to believe it. And I don't think Whitehall really ever believed that they would actually carry out the plans we laid so carefully over two years."

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