Hammond and Fox claim Brexit unity 

Hammond and Fox claim Brexit unity 

The UK will need a transition period to help businesses adjust after Brexit, the formerly warring finance minister and the international trade secretary have announced, trying to give an image of unity. 

In a joint Sunday Telegraph article, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Liam Fox said any deal would not last indefinitely or be a “back door” to staying in the EU.

The two men come from rival sides of Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet.

A paper is due to be published this week on the border with the Irish Republic.

In the Sunday Telegraph article, the ministers said the UK would certainly leave both the customs union and single market when it exited the EU in March 2019.

They argued that a “time-limited” period would “further our national interest and give business greater certainty” while saying that it would not stop Brexit.

“We are both clear that during this period the UK will be outside the single market and outside the customs union and will be a ‘third-country’ not party to EU treaties,” they argued.

UK’s borders “must continue to operate smoothly” and anything bought online “must still cross borders” and “businesses must still be able to supply their customers across the EU” after Brexit, the Conservative pair said.

They wanted to avoid “a cliff-edge when we leave the EU”.

Former Labour foreign secretary David Miliband (picturedsaid Brexit was an “unparalleled act of economic self-harm”, calling for politicians on all sides to unite to fight back against the “worst consequences” of the divisive departure.

Writing in the left-leaning Observer, the former MP said parliamentarians or the public should be given a straight vote between EU membership and the alternatives that result from negotiations with the EU.

“The case against the EU depends on avoiding a discussion of the alternative,” he wrote.

“It is the equivalent of voting to repeal Obamacare without knowing the replacement. It is a stitch-up.

“That is one reason it is essential that parliament or the public are given the chance to have a straight vote between EU membership and the negotiated alternative. That is a democratic demand, not just a prudent one.

“People say we must respect the referendum. We should. But democracy did not end on 23 June 2016.

“The referendum will be no excuse if the country is driven off a cliff.”

Miliband, now president of the International Rescue Committee in New York, urged politicians of all parties to unite against Brexit and praised Hammond, whose demands for a transitional deal sparked rifts within cabinet.

Former Labour foreign secretary David Miliband. Picture credit: Flickr

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