Philip Hammond Tells Boris Johnson To 'Stop Throwing Tantrums' Over Brexit

Ex-chancellor calls for "grown-up government" as PM pushes for snap election.
Former chancellor Philip Hammond
Former chancellor Philip Hammond
PA Wire/PA Images

Boris Johnson must “stop throwing tantrums” over its Brexit agenda and “get on with the grown-up business” of government, Philip Hammond has said.

The former Tory chancellor made the appeal to the prime minister after another chaotic week in Westminster and as Johnson tries again to force a snap general election.

Hammond also told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday that he wouldn’t back Johnson’s bid for a December 12 election, but he would be willing to vote for a customs union amendment to the Brexit deal.

MPs last week backed the withdrawal agreement bill, which aims to write Johnson’s new Brexit deal into UK law, but on Tuesday ripped up his fast-track timetable to ram it through parliament in just three days.

In response, the PM was forced to seek an extension to the Article 50 deadline but has so far refused to set out a fresh timetable for the bill that parties, who want to table amendments to the bill, can agree to.

Instead, he is pressing for a snap general election on December 12, and is at loggerheads with Labour who want him to rule out any threat of a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking to Sophie Ridge On Sunday on Sky News, Hammond said the prime minister should take a more pragmatic approach.

He said: “This is not the time to be holding a general election. It’s a time for cool heads and grown-up government.”

Johnson threatened earlier this week to repeatedly push for a general election and effectively put the government on strike by refusing to bring forward new business if parties refused an election.

The government later rowed back from this position and said it would table new business.

Hammond, who was among the 21 Tory MPs kicked out of the parliamentary party for defying the PM over Brexit, went on: “Parliament has indicated clearly that it is willing to support this deal. The prime minister said he wants a deal. These deadlines – October 31 – are meaningless.

“The key thing now is to get the deal properly scrutinised in parliament. That doesn’t mean delaying it by months, it means giving parliament a few days, a couple of weeks, to scrutinise the bill, amend it if necessary and then we can make progress.

“The government should stop making threats, stop throwing tantrums, and get on with the grown-up business of doing its business. Just because it can’t get exactly what it wants doesn’t mean it should stop working.”

He added that while Johnson was a “slick political operator” he had chosen a deal that ex-PM Theresa May had refused - which will put a regularly border in the Irish Sea - because it was a “potential” threat to the union.

The Lib Dems and the SNP have put forward a plan for an earlier snap general election on December 9, but it seems likely to fall flat as the government and Labour have indicated they won’t support it, with Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan calling it “a stunt”.

Meanwhile, the EU is waiting for the UK parliament to thrash out an election date before it will agree on an extension to Article 50 beyond the current October 31 deadline.


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