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Time running out on Brexit: Hammond
September 12, 2018
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LONDON: Britain’s Finance Minister Philip Hammond said on Tuesday time was running out to secure a Brexit deal and confirmed that Bank of England Governor Mark Carney had agreed to stay to help the country through “a turbulent period” for its economy.

Hammond said the government was devoting all its efforts to securing a deal on a new relationship with the European Union before Britain leaves the bloc in March next year but admitted the clock was ticking.

“Time is running out. We are working against the clock, we understand that,” Hammond told parliament. “We will be working flat out over the coming weeks and months to achieve (a deal).”

The United Kingdom will leave the EU on March 29 but as yet no full exit deal has been agreed and many lawmakers in Prime

Prime Minister Theresa May’s own party object to her own so-called Chequers proposals. Her spokesman said May saw an informal EU summit in Salzburg next week as a “staging post” in Brexit negotiations that would allow EU leaders to discuss her proposals for the first time.

“It will also be the first time the leaders will discuss together the UK government’s white paper which put forward a series of credible and serious proposals,” he told reporters.

The Chequers proposals envisage continued close trade ties with the EU after Brexit.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has criticised aspects of May’s blueprint but said on Monday he believed a Brexit deal was possible “within six or eight weeks,” in comments that lifted the pound currency against the euro and dollar.

Lawmakers from May’s Conservative Party can vote against her Brexit plans without it being a vote of confidence in her government, the head of an influential group of pro-Brexit lawmakers said on Tuesday.

Brexiteers have said as many as 80 of May’s 315 lawmakers could vote against her so-called Chequers plan, leaving the fate of the government and the Brexit deal in the hands of the opposition Labour Party.

If she loses that vote, Britain could leave the EU without a deal, an outcome some believe would spark a crisis of confidence that could cost her the premiership.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, chair of the European Research Group, a faction within May’s Conservatives, plans to vote against the Chequers deal but said that does not mean May has to go.

“The vote on the legislation will not be a vote of confidence,” Rees-Mogg, tipped by some as a possible successor to May, told a pro-Brexit event in parliament.

“We can vote down the bad Chequers proposals and support the government in a vote of confidence. They are separate things and trying to align them I think is a mistake. So we can carry on supporting the prime minister but we can oppose this policy until it is changed or collapses.”

Alternative plan

A pro-Brexit group of Conservative lawmakers predicted on Tuesday Britain will enjoy an economic boom if it trades with the EU under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules after Brexit.

Eurosceptics May’s Tory party presented an alternative plan to the government’s that envisions a clean break from the EU bloc.

The question of how to engineer Britain’s departure without ruining its economy in the process has torn apart the ruling party since the Brexit referendum was passed in 2016.

A group calling itself the Economists for Free Trade presented the plan on Tuesday, saying it was offering a “Clean Brexit — that is, a World Trade Deal under WTO rules.”


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