Philip Hammond warns Tory leadership rivals it is 'impossible' to leave EU on 31 October

Posted On: 
12th June 2019

Leaving the European Union by 31 October will be "impossible", Philip Hammond has claimed.

Philip Hammond has said Boris Johnson's vow to leave the EU on 31 October is 'impossible'.
PA Images

The Chancellor warned the contenders to be the next Conservative leader - including frontrunner Boris Johnson - they should not "box themselves into a corner" by insisting Brexit will definitely happen by that date.

Mr Johnson has said that if he becomes Prime Minister, the UK will leave the EU on Hallowe'en "deal or no deal".

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But speaking at an event hosted by Bloomberg, Mr Hammond said there was no chance of that happening because Parliament would block it.

He said: "I think it’s not sensible for candidates to box themselves into a corner on this. Parliament will not allow a no-deal exit from the EU and our experience has suggested it may not be that easy to secure a deal in Parliament.”

The Chancellor added: "Parliament will no doubt be very interested to hear what the new Prime Minister has to say but in my mind Parliament is not going to change its decision that it will not license a no-deal exit.

"So I think it will be very difficult, in fact I think it will be impossible to do this by 31 October and I don’t think it will be in our national interest to drive toward this cliff edge."

Meanwhile, the Chancellor also warned the leadership candidates not to make unfunded spending commitments, such as Mr Johnson’s pledge to cut taxes for high earners.

He said: "Be mindful of the fact that so long as no deal is a risk, we need to retain a war chest to protect our economy from the immediate shock of a no-deal Brexit . Until no deal is definitely off the table, we need to retain that firepower.

"I would caution any leadership contenders in going beyond committing the headroom we know we already have and starting to move into the realms of unfunded spending or tax cutting commitments.

"It is simply not the case, as some people have asserted, that tax cuts pay for themselves."

At his leadership launch, Mr Johnson again insisted that the UK "must leave the EU on 31 October".

He added: "I am not aiming for a no-deal outcome, I don’t think we can end up with any such thing. But it is only responsible to prepare vigorously and seriously."