Philip Hammond defies Theresa May to call for cross-party soft Brexit 'consensus'

Posted On: 
13th March 2019

Philip Hammond has called for a cross-party "consensus" to get a soft Brexit deal passed by the Commons - despite Theresa May's hopes that her own agreement could yet be backed by MPs.

A grim-faced Theresa May looks on as Philip Hammond delivers his Spring Statement.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Chancellor said "compromise" would be needed across Parliament in order to avoid the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

He made the surprise comments as he delivered a Spring Statement in which he warned a no-deal Brexit would damage the economy.

Philip Hammond warns of economic gloom if UK crashes out of the EU without a deal

Theresa May forced to give free vote on Malthouse Brexit bid after Cabinet backlash

PMQs and Spring Statement AS IT HAPPENED: Philip Hammond unveils £100m knife crime package

MPs comprehensively rejected Theresa May's Brexit deal for a second time on Tuesday evening, throwing the Prime Minister's plans into chaos.

On Wednesday night, the Commons will vote on whether to rule out leaving without a deal on 29 March, and a further vote is likely on Thursday evening on whether to delay Brexit past that date.

Mr Hammond said: "Last night’s events mean we are not where I hoped we would be today. Our economy is fundamentally robust, but the uncertainty that I hoped we would lift last night, still hangs over us.

"We cannot allow that to continue: It is damaging our economy and it is damaging our standing and reputation in the world. Tonight, we have a choice: we can remove the threat of an imminent no-deal exit hanging over our economy.

"Tomorrow, we will have the opportunity to start to map out a way forward towards building a consensus across this House for a deal we can collectively support, to exit the EU in an orderly way to a future relationship that will allow Britain to flourish - protecting jobs and businesses."

However, a spokesman for the Prime Minister tried to play down suggestions of a rift between her and the Chancellor.

He said: "I'd point you back to the PM's words last night. She said that the House faces choices in the coming days. She has set out her clear determination to leave with a deal, she thinks that is the best outcome for the country.

"If we are to do that, that will mean finding common ground and a way forward. As far as I could see, that's what the Chancellor was saying."