Brexit ministers at war with Philip Hammond over ‘dangerous’ EU transitional deal

BREXITEERS loyal to David Davis have attacked Chancellor Philip Hammond over his plans to slow down Brexit with a transitional deal that could keep the UK tied to the EU for the next five years.

With Theresa May on holiday, her Cabinet have gone to war over Mr Hammond’s suggestion that Britain’s relationship with Brussels could remain “very similar” for at least three years after the UK formally withdraws from the bloc in 2019.

Mr Davis’ camp have accused the pro-EU Chancellor of “going on manoeuvres” while the Prime Minister enjoys a three week break in Lake Garda, Italy, leaving him in charge of the country. 

A senior minister told the Daily Express Mr Hammond is “living in cloud cuckoo land” while Richard Tice, the chairman of Leave Means Leave, which is supported by more than 50 Tory MPs, said that the Chancellor “must go”.

The row follows close allies of foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit secretary Mr Davis making it clear that Mr Hammond’s proposal for a two stage transition period which would delay Brexit for five years was unacceptable.

Mr Hammond infuriated Brexit supporters on Friday when he said “many things will look similar” on the day after Brexit, and hoped goods would flow across the border between the EU and Britain in “much the same way as they do now” during the transitional period.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday former Brexit minister David Jones said: “This is a classic case of when the cat’s away, the mice will play.

“No sooner is the Prime Minister on holiday and Parliament away for the summer, than europhile forces in Cabinet decide it’s a good time to go on manoeuvres.”

Mr Jones said the Chancellor’s words were “dangerous” and that a three-year transitional period after 2019 could be perilous ahead of the next scheduled General Election. 

“There would be no time to show voters how Britain can flourish free from the grip of Brussels for the simple reason we wouldn’t properly have left.”

But Mr Hammond was praised by Conservative Remainers, including Sir Nicholas Soames, who told the Mail on Sunday the chancellor had “restored diginity to the political infant class who want Brexit at any cost”. 

A senior minister told the Daily Express he had heard the Chancellor say “much worse things” and said he was “living in cloud cuckoo land” over his position on Brexit and a number of other issues.

Meanwhile there was concerns that Mr Hammond will ditch another part of Tory policy and try to put up taxes in his Budget later this year following a summit in the Treasury on Monday to discuss how to fill the £4 billion hole left by cancelling another tax rise on the self employed.

July 31st, 2017: Express