LONDON – The United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, acknowledged on Wednesday that he has so far not budgeted for a possible no-deal in the Brexit negotiations, a revelation likely to stir up criticism from hardline Conservative Party lawmakers.
Writing in the Times newspaper, Hammond said that the UK had to be realistic about the challenges of withdrawing from the European Union.
“We are planning for every outcome and we will find any necessary funding and we will only spend it when it’s responsible to do so,” he said.
His comments are likely to incite a critical response from some Tory backbenchers who have advocated for a so-called hard Brexit that would involve severing all ties with the EU without striking up a deal on a future relationship.
Brexit negotiators from the UK government and from the EU were currently locked in the first phase of talks aimed at untangling 40 years of economic and political cooperation.
Prime Minister Theresa May, who has led the Conservative Party since David Cameron resigned in the wake of the Brexit referendum in June 2016, also raised eyebrows during an appearance on London-based LBC radio late Tuesday when she refused to confirm how she would vote if the poll was staged again.
The UK is set to leave the EU in March 2019 with or without a future deal.
EU negotiators have lamented the slow progress in the talks so far.
The UK government has at times been divided over which Brexit approach would be in the best interest of the country.
The Conservative front bench in the House of Commons, the lower chamber, includes prominent Brexit supporters such as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, International Trade Minister Liam Fox and Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
May voted to Remain in the Brexit vote, as did her economy chief, Hammond.