Friday, 13 Dec 2019

Boris accused of ‘betraying Brexit vote with No Deal by listening to saboteurs’

Boris Johnson would commit a betrayal of the referendum if he enacted a no-deal Brexit by listening to the "unelected" saboteurs "who pull the strings" of his Government, former chancellor Philip Hammond has warned.

Mr Hammond, who resigned in anticipation of Mr Johnson becoming Prime Minister, urged the Tory leader to take the UK out of the European Union with a deal in place.

But he said early signs for that "are not encouraging", warning that demands to abolish the backstop has become a "wrecking" stance over a deal.

"The unelected people who pull the strings of this Government know that this is a demand the EU cannot and will not accede to," the Tory backbencher wrote in The Times on Wednesday.

Mr Hammond said he was busting two "great myths" over a no-deal Brexit, arguing it will be damaging to the nation – both economically and to the union – and that voters do not back the move.

"Most people in this country want to see us leave in a smooth and orderly fashion that will not disrupt lives, cost jobs or diminish living standards, whether they voted Leave or Remain in 2016," he wrote.

"Parliament faithfully reflects the view of that majority and it will make its voice heard. No-deal would be a betrayal of the 2016 referendum result.

"It must not happen."

Mr Hammond also accused "some key figures in the Government" of "absurdly" suggesting no-deal would boost the UK's economy.

And The Sun reported that a separate letter with a similar sentiment was sent to the PM with the signatures of Mr Hammond and 20 other senior Tory MPs, including former Cabinet ministers David Lidington, David Gauke, Rory Stewart and Greg Clark.

Meanwhile, Speaker John Bercow warned he "will fight with every breath in my body" any attempt by the PM to suspend Parliament to force through no-deal against MPs' wishes.

And Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd said she would urge Mr Johnson not to take that move as part of his "do or die" commitment for Brexit by the October 31 deadline.

Mr Bercow told an audience at the Edinburgh Fringe festival that he "strongly" believes the House of Commons "must have its way", in remarks reported by the Herald newspaper.

"And if there is an attempt to circumvent, to bypass or – God forbid – to close down Parliament, that is anathema to me," he said.

"I will fight with every breath in my body to stop that happening."

Ms Rudd warned that the Government must not work against MPs by proroguing Parliament.

"I will play my part in Cabinet and privately with the Prime Minister and with ministers in arguing strongly for respecting parliamentary sovereignty," she told the BBC.

"And you know, I'm a Member of Parliament, the Prime Minister and all Cabinet members are Members of Parliament, we need to remember where our authority comes from."

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Mr Johnson conceded he expects negotiating a post-Brexit trade deal with the US would be a "tough old haggle".

But he said he remains confident that the UK "will get there".

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