The Chancellor did not mince his words as he urged his colleagues to stop bickering and focus on breaking the Brexit talks deadlock.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Hammond said: “My message is this: I understand that passions are high and I understand that people have very strong views about this but we’re all going to the same place, we all have the same agenda.
“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.”
The Chancellor’s outburst will come as a surprise to many who considered him one of the more moderate members of Theresa May’s Cabinet and follows rumours that he would prefer to see a ‘soft Brexit’ deal, retaining as many EU ties as possible.
Philip Hammond has described the EU as ‘the enemy’ amid growing Brexit frustrations
He was forced to insist he is prepared for all possible Brexit outcomes following accusations he does not have a plan in place for the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario and denied he was talking down the UK economy.
He described as “bizarre” allegations from some MPs that he was “talking down the economy”.
“It would be absurd to pretend that the process we’re in at the moment hasn’t created uncertainty in the business community. As you know, businesses crave clarity and stability,” Mr Hammond said.
“The sooner we get that clarity the better for the UK economy. This is a very short term uncertainty problem around the UK economy.”
Mr Hammond is currently in Washington ahead of an IMF annual meeting
Speaking to media in Washington on Friday, Hammond declined to say whether he would vote for Brexit if there were a second referendum after he campaigned for Britain to remain part of the EU ahead of the June 2016 vote.
After the Prime Minister refused to answer the “hypothetical” question during a radio interview, Mr Hammond also declined to say how he would vote if another referendum were held now.
He told the BBC: “We’ve had the referendum. You know how I voted in it.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Theresa May has said she is fully behind the Chancellor, adding: “They have a very good working relationship and they work very closely together.”
Cabinet splits over Brexit between Boris Johnson and the Chancellor have dominated the headlines
The news comes after European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said British people were starting to realise the “numerous disadvantages” of leaving the European Union and demanded the UK “must pay” its financial commitments to the bloc.
He drew laughs from a crowd at the University of Luxembourg as he repeatedly said Britain “must pay” its financial obligations to the bloc, comparing its actions to a drinker refusing to buy a round of beer.
And Mr Juncker decried a lack of “common sense” from the UK on the issue of EU citizens living in Britain and vice-versa, saying he “doesn’t understand” why their rights cannot simply “stay as they are”.
He said: “Brexit is a serious issue. It came now, unexpected but not totally unexpected. Now we have to deal with the results and the first to be impressed by the numerous disadvantages, the Brexit meaning Brexit is entailing, are the British.
“They are discovering as we are day after day new problems. That’s the reason why this process will take longer than initially thought. We had the idea that we would clear all the questions related to the divorce – it’s not possible.
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“Citizens’ rights, yeah there we are making progress. I don’t even understand this problem why not say easily with common sense, which is not a political category as we know, that the things will stay as they are.”
Mr Juncker also made an impassioned plea on the subject, telling the room: “The European foreigners, as they are saying in London, they are there on the island and so many British friends are here so let them here let them there. Why are we discussing nonsense like that?”
“Citizens have rights because they are citizens not because there is a Brexit issue which has to be discussed and so on and so forth. We cannot find for the time being a real compromise as far as the remaining financial commitments of the UK are concerned.
“And as we are not able to do this we will not be able to say during the European Council in October that now we can move to the second phase of the negotiation, that means the shaping of the British European future.”
Source : EXPRESS