Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting of her cabinet on Tuesday to discuss what is expected to be her final attempt to win parliamentary approval for her deal for Britain to leave the EU.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond warned his eurosceptic cabinet colleagues ahead of the meeting not to follow Britain’s “populist right” by promoting the idea that leaving the EU without a deal is the only “truly legitimate Brexit.”
“To advocate for no deal is to hijack the result of the [2016 Brexit] referendum and in doing so knowingly to inflict damage on our economy and our living standards,” Hammond said in advance excerpts from a speech to the Confederation of British Industry on Tuesday.
The BBC and other media quoted him as saying he would push for a Brexit deal to “protect jobs, businesses and future prosperity”.
“We need to be clear, that if we do not resolve this issue in the next few weeks, there is a real risk of a new prime minister abandoning the search for a deal, and shifting towards seeking a damaging no-deal exit as a matter of policy,” Hammond was quoted as saying.
May agreed with senior members of her Conservative party last week to set a timetable to step down as party leader once parliament has voted on her EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill in early June.
Writing in the pro-Conservative Sunday Times newspaper, May promised a “bold, new offer” in her latest Brexit bill, after lawmakers rejected her deal three times.