Philip Hammond

Philip Hammond could still be playing the politics of this a lot, lot better.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel as far as the Brexit talks go? Should Philip Hammond be sacked? Your answers to those questions probably say as much about where you stand on the Remain/Leave question than anything else.

After a glum assessment of where things stand from Michel Barnier gives cause for gloom, a leaked document showing that the European Council may begin preparatory work on trade negotiations has given reason for hope. Both are legitimate, but the problem is that regardless of whether the talks move on, the underlying problems causing them to stall, particularly the question of the Irish border, are going to cause a crisis sooner or later.

What about Philip Hammond? Tory grandee Nigel Lawson has called for him to be sacked and pressure is growing on the Chancellor as a result of his refusal to put money aside to “plan for no deal”.

There are a couple of points worth noting here. The first is that while I know balanced budgets are so 2000-and-late, as a result of George Osborne’s repeated failure to hit his targets, there is no money to “set aside”. What the Conservatives are actually calling on is for more borrowing, more taxes, more debt: that is to say, they are quietly holing their big argument against Labour under the waterline.

The second is that Hammond could still be playing the politics of this a lot, lot better. Yes, preparing for “no deal” is a fantasy (how does one prepare for telling cancer patients they have no isotopes for treatment, etc?) for reasons Chris Giles details well in the FT this morning. But after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union it will …read more

Source:: New Statesman

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