Tory Eurosceptic MPs have attacked Philip Hammond as the Chancellor prepares to use a speech this evening to urge the next prime minister to consider holding a second Brexit referendum.
The Chancellor is expected to tell City of London chiefs that Theresa May’s deal remains the best way for the UK to leave the EU in an orderly fashion.
He will suggest that if that deal cannot get through Parliament then Mrs May’s successor will have to consider ‘other democratic mechanisms’ to resolve the impasse.
He will also vow to ‘fight and fight’ against No Deal in comments seen as a direct challenge to Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to be the next Tory leader, who has suggested he would take the UK out of the EU on October 31 with or without an agreement.
But the intervention has sparked fury among Tory Brexiteers who are vehemently opposed to holding a second referendum.
Simon Clarke, a Conservative Eurosceptic MP, said: ‘This is wrong on every level. Wrong because it would shatter faith in politics.
‘Wrong because it would usher in a ruinous Government led by Jeremy Corbyn.
‘And wrong because it would not bring resolution to the issue – if a second referendum, why not a third? Terrible.’
Philip Hammond (pictured at a press conference on June 17) will today urge Boris Johnson to keep the option of a second EU referendum open to break Brexit deadlock
The Chancellor (pictured leaving Parliament on June 18) is a vocal opponent to a No Deal divorce from the EU and this evening he will reiterate his intention to ‘fight’ such a move
Mr Hammond’s strong opposition to No Deal raises the prospect of him voting with Labour to bring down a government led by Mr Johnson if it sought to pursue a disorderly split from the bloc.
Calling on the remaining Tory leadership candidates to be ‘honest with the public’ Mr Hammond will urge them to set out an alternative if their plan A is ‘undeliverable’.
He will say: ‘If the new Prime Minister cannot end the deadlock in Parliament, then he will have to explore other democratic mechanisms to break the impasse.
‘Because if he fails, his job will be on the line – and so, too, will the jobs and prosperity of millions of our fellow citizens.’
The Chancellor will say that the parliamentary arithmetic will not change unless there is an election, Parliament will block No Deal, and will not support the withdrawal deal as it stands.
He will also suggest the EU will not budge on the terms of the current agreement and the Irish backstop will ‘not go away’.
Mr Hammond will also warn Mr Johnson (pictured), and the remaining leadership candidates, that a No Deal Brexit would cause a hit on the public finances of at least £30billion and leave the cupboard bare for spending pledges and tax cuts
He will also warn Mr Johnson, and the remaining leadership candidates, that a No Deal Brexit would cause a hit on the public finances of at least £30billion and leave the cupboard bare for spending pledges and tax cuts.
And he will set his face firmly against No Deal, threatening to ‘fight, and fight again’ against it.
He will add: ‘I cannot imagine a Conservative and Unionist-led Government, actively pursuing a No Deal Brexit; willing to risk the Union and our economic prosperity. And a General Election that could put Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street, to boot.’
Jeremy Corbyn resists calls for second referendum
Jeremy Corbyn refused to throw his party’s weight behind Remain yesterday as he resisted shadow cabinet demands to change tack after last month’s European elections diasaster.
At a stormy meeting, several members of his cabinet called for a decisive shift in Labour’s position. Sources said shadow chancellor John McDonnell warned him: ‘We look indecisive, we look like we’ve been triangulating. We need to make our position clear.’
However, Mr Corbyn declined to back a second referendum, saying merely he wanted a ‘public vote’, which could be a general election. And he would not commit to supporting Remain if there was another vote.
Mr Corbyn said: ‘We have committed to respecting the result of the referendum and have strongly made the case for an alternative plan for Brexit as the only serious deal that could potentially command the support of the House.’
It came after 26 Labour MPs from mainly Leave-voting constituencies wrote to their leader to warn it would be ‘toxic’ to block Brexit. Instead, the MPs urged him to back a deal before October 31.
Earlier this week, Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, demanded Mr Corbyn come out for a second referendum and become a Remain supporter.