Philip Hammond has said the United Kingdom “can’t have our cake and eat it” in the Brexit negotiations, as Theresa May prepares to trigger Article 50 and take the country out of the EU.
The chancellor’s comment will be interpreted as a sly dig at Boris Johnson who said during the referendum campaign the UK could control immigration as well have full access to the single market.
The foreign secretary said at the time: “Our policy is having our cake and eating it”.
The clock will start ticking on two years of exit talks at 12.30pm today, when the UK’s ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, delivers the Article 50 letter to Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, in Brussels.
May will deliver a statement to the House of Commons at the same time following prime minister’s questions.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Hammond said “of course” the government “have plans for day one after leaving the EU”.
“I am absolutely confident we will negotiate a deal. I don’t think anybody has any doubt about that. The question is about getting the very best possible deal and making sure our prime minister has the maximum flexibility, the maximum negotiating muscle,” he said.
The chancellor said “everybody in the EU and the UK is going to go into this negotiation looking to protect their own interests”.
Hammond also denied he had been cut out of the loop by Downing Street following his poorly received Budget. “I haven’t felt rather marginalised,” he said.