Former British Chancellor Philip Hammond warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday that a no-deal Brexit would be “a betrayal” of the British people’s 2016 vote to leave the EU.
“No-deal would be a betrayal of the 2016 referendum result,” Hammond wrote a comment in Wednesday’s issue of The Times daily. “It must not happen.”
“To pretend now that Leave voters voted for a hard no-deal Brexit is a total travesty of the truth,” the former finance minister stressed.
During the campaign leading up to the referendum, in which the UK’s departure from the EU was backed by 52% of voters, the specific conditions of a withdrawal were unclear.
Johnson, who succeeded Theresa May on 24 July, has vowed that the UK will withdraw from the EU by 31 October, the Brexit deadline, whether or not he manages to renegotiate the deal concluded between his predecessor and Brussels.
However, for the former Chancellor, the new government’s switch from demanding changes to the backstop mechanism to demanding its total withdrawal “is a pivot from a tough negotiating stance to a wrecking one.”
“The unelected people who pull the strings of this government know that this is a demand the EU cannot, and will not, accede to,” Hammond emphasised, in an allusion to Dominic Cummings, special adviser to the Prime Minister and the brain behind the referendum campaign.
Under the backstop mechanism, the United Kingdom would remain in the customs union if no better solution is decided upon in the discussions on the future relationship between the EU and London, so as to avoid a return to a hard border between Northern Ireland, a British province, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state.
Other political heavyweights have also come out against the strategy of Boris Johnson, who has not ruled out the possibility of suspending parliament in October to prevent legislators from blocking a no-deal withdrawal.
They include the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. “If there is any attempt to circumvent, to bypass or – God forbid – to close down Parliament (…) I will fight with every breath in my body to stop that happening,” he vowed on Tuesday evening.