Philip Hammond denies sabotaging Brexit divorce talks, calls EU 'the enemy'

Says the Cabinet is united behind Prime Minister’s Florence speech

Just a day after hard Brexit supporters accused him of being too downbeat about Britain’s prospects after it leaves the bloc in March 2019, UK Chancellor Philip Hammond shot down the accusations today as ‘absurd’ and called himself a realist who wants to “protect and prepare” the economy for the challenges ahead.

Speaking in Washington at the International Monetary Fund meeting today, the Chancellor said that ‘passions are high’ and urged colleagues to work together on the same agenda.

Referring to the EU as “the enemy” in Brexit negotiations, the Chancellor told Sky News: “The enemy, the opponents are out there, they’re on the other side of the negotiating table. Those are the people we have to negotiate with, negotiate hard to get the very best deal for Britain.”

While addressing accusations of sabotage over Brexit, Hammond said: “It is absurd to pretend that the process we are engaged in hasn’t created some uncertainty. But the underlying economy remains robust. I am committed to delivering a Brexit deal that works for Britain.”

Read related story: Speed up Brexit transition talks or deal will become a wasting asset, says UK Chancellor

The Chancellor also said that he wouldn’t resign and that preparations were under way for all eventualities including a “no-deal” outcome. “There is a group of people with some very clear views about what outcome they want to see… I am absolutely committed to delivering Brexit and hope that there is no doubt about that, but I do want to do it in a way that protects jobs, business and future prosperity.”

He further clarified that the Cabinet is united behind Prime Minister Theresa May’s Florence speech: “We know what our proposal is, we put it on the table effectively. Now we want the European Union to engage with it… challenge us… but let’s behave like grown-ups.” he said.

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