Hammond demands Brexit unity
The UK’s finance minister has warned loose-tongued Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that he could be ditched if he keeps trying to push Prime Minister Theresa May towards a “hard” Brexit.
“Everyone is sackable,” Chancellor Philip Hammond said, adding that Johnson’s insistence that a transitional period must last “not a second more” than two years was a “rhetorical flourish”.
Divisions in government were damaging the chances of success in the Brexit talks, Hammond said, adding: “The more we can show unity, the stronger our negotiating position.”
Hammond insisted the cabinet agreed on a united position that the transition now being sought by May should last “around two years”.
The British Chambers of Commerce attacked cabinet squabbling, demanding the government pulls together and shows “competence and coherence”.
“Public disagreements between cabinet ministers in recent weeks have only served to undermine business confidence, not just on Brexit negotiations,” said BCC director general Adam Marshall.
The Conservatives are aware of their ailing support with younger voters. In the 2015 election, the split in support between Labour and the Conservatives in the 18 to 29 age group was fairly even at 36 per cent to 32 per cent.
In June’s general election, according to pollsters YouGov, Labour was now on 64 per cent with the Conservatives at 21 per cent.
Not until they are aged 50 are Conservative voters in a majority.
Meanwhile, Tory Brexit champion Jacob Rees-Mogg has called May’s claim that her administration will not be defined by Brexit is “absurd” and that every area of Whitehall should be concentrating on leaving the EU.
The right-wing MP told the think-tank Politeia during the Conservative Party conference: “[Brexit] is the defining political issue of our time and and to pretend otherwise – you hear statements saying the government doesn’t want to be defined by Brexit. This is absurd.
“It’s got to be defined by Brexit. This is a fundamental shift in how the country is governed on the same order of magnitude of the Glorious Revolution or the Great Reform Bill. It is transformative constitutionally and consequences will knock on every area of our lives,” the supposed leadership hopeful added.
Rees-Mogg said that there was no obligation under UK, EU or international law to pay any money to Brussels in the form of a divorce bill. “That should be our starting point in the negotiations,” he told the event in Manchester.
A Boris Johnson impersonator with a Theresa May puppet outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. Picture credit: Eurasia Times