LONDON: Britain’s former top finance official accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government on Wednesday of steering the country toward a damaging no-deal Brexit that isn’t backed by Parliament or British voters.
Johnson, in turn, alleged that anti-Brexit UK politicians were collaborating with the European Union to block Britain’s exit from the bloc.
Philip Hammond, a Conservative legislator who stepped down as Treasury chief just before Johnson became prime minister last month, said “leaving the EU without a deal would be just as much a betrayal of the referendum result as not leaving at all.” Hammond told the BBC that Johnson had moved from a tough negotiating stance to a “wrecking” one by insisting on changes to the withdrawal agreement between Britain and the EU that the bloc would not accept.
He said that while he believed Johnson wanted a deal, “there are other people around him whose agenda is different” an apparent reference to advisers such as Dominic Cummings, one of the architects of the country’s 2016 decision to leave the EU.
Johnson has vowed that Britain will leave the EU on the scheduled date of Oct 31 just 11 weeks away with or without a divorce deal. He is demanding the EU make major changes to the agreement the bloc made with his predecessor, Theresa May. The EU refuses to renegotiate, so a no-deal Brexit appears increasingly likely.
Johnson claimed Wednesday there was “a terrible kind of collaboration” between an intransigent EU and UK politicians who want to stymie Britain’s exit from the bloc.
“We need our European friends to compromise, and the more they think there’s a chance Brexit can be blocked in Parliament the more adamant they are of sticking to their position,” Johnson said during a question-and-answer session on Facebook.
Many economists say leaving the EU without an agreement on the terms will trigger a recession and cause economic mayhem, with shortages of fresh food and other goods likely as customs checks snarl Britain’s ports.
Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2019