NEWS
01/09/2019 22:48 BST | Updated 02/09/2019 12:04 BST

Hammond Rejects Face-To-Face With PM Ahead Of No-Deal Brexit Battle In Commons

Johnson leading “government not interested in compromise”, says Tory rebel source

Phillip Hammond has rejected a one-on-one with Boris Johnson after the PM pulled out of a meeting with rebel Tories ahead of a showdown over no-deal Brexit showdown in the Commons.

The ex-chancellor turned down Johnson’s offer after the PM blamed diary issues for the last-minute move.

PA Wire/PA Images
Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured at Downing Street on Friday 

A source close to the rebel MPs said Johnson was not taking their fears about Britain crashing out seriously, adding: “Aside from being deeply discourteous, todays behaviour shows this is not a government interested in compromise.

“These MPs want proof that there is a genuine and sincere attempt to get a deal.

“The fact that the Prime Minister isn’t even prepared to meet them suggests there isn’t.” 

 Even with the backing of the DUP Johnson has a majority of just one in parliament, which means the rebel Tory MPs have the opportunity to obstruct the prime minister’s moves toward a no-deal Brexit.

The cancellation of the tomorrow’s meeting came shortly after Gauke appeared to indicate he was prepared to risk losing the party whip in order to oppose a no-deal exit from the EU.

He told Sky News: “Sometimes there is a point where… you have to judge between your own personal interests and the national interest.

“And the national interest has to come first.

“But, I hope it doesn’t come to that, and I hope cooler and calmer heads will look at this and think that trying to split the Conservative Party in this way is not a sensible way forward for the Conservative Party, or indeed for the country.”

Government sources then said a one-on-one meeting between the PM and Philip Hammond had been proposed, however it soon emerged that the offer had reportedly been declined by the former chancellor. 

The developments came after Cabinet heavyweight Michael Gove refused to say if the Government would abide by legislation blocking a no-deal Brexit if it is forced through by Tory rebels and the opposition this week.

Pressed repeatedly on whether the Government would abide by a successful bid by Commons opponents to pass legislation preventing a no-deal withdrawal on October 31, Gove told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “Let’s see what the legislation says.

“You’re asking me about a pig in a poke.

“And I will wait to see what legislation the opposition may try to bring forward.”

Gove added: “For me, the most important thing is to bear in mind actually, we already have legislation in place which an overwhelming majority of MPs voted for.

“We already have an EU Withdrawal Act, we already have the notice on Article 50, the process by which we leave the EU.”

Johnson held a strategy meeting with party whips and senior aides on Sunday in preparation for a tough week ahead.

Opponents of no deal look set to try to seize control of the parliamentary agenda to push through legislation delaying Brexit beyond October 31.

Asked if he planned to try to force through a Brexit extension beyond October 31, Gauke said: “I think the detail will become very apparent in the next few days.

“But I think the important thing is that Parliament should not be excluded from this process.

“I don’t believe that no deal has a mandate from the 2016 referendum. I don’t think it has got the support of Parliament.

“And the problem is that if we don’t act in this week, I think that it is likely that Parliament will be excluded from this process.”