Former Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond and Labour Party’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer privately discussed how to torpedo Boris Johnson’ no Brexit deal shortly before the new UK Prime Minister entered office last week, The Guardian reports.
During the talks, Hammond and Starmer reportedly agreed to cooperate with a number of other leading MPs, including former Tory Ministers Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve, who don’t support the no-deal scenario.
“The political direction of travel under Boris Johnson is clear, and so it is more important than ever that we build a strong cross-party alliance to stop a no-deal Brexit. That work will intensify over the summer, before parliament resumes in September,” The Guardian quoted Starmer as saying.
Tories Lead in Polls After Boris Johnson Becomes Prime Minister
The remarks were preceded by a new Opinium/Observer survey which showed that the Conservatives have goine through a “Boris bounce” in the polls since Johnson entering office.
The Tories led with 30 percent more of the vote than Labour in Johnson’s first week as Prime Minister, according to the poll. It puts the Conservatives up seven points compared with a fortnight ago.
New UK Finance Minister Announces ‘Significant Extra Funding’
Starmer’s statement came as new Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid announced “significant extra funding” to help the UK get “fully ready to leave” the EU on 31 October, with or without a deal.
According to David, additional spending will specifically include hefty sums on the UK’s “biggest ever public information campaigns” related to the country’s possible no-deal exit from the EU. Also on the table is a plan to fund the appointment of 500 new Border Force officers, he said.
“Yes, we want to leave with a good deal – one that abolishes the undemocratic backstop. That would be better for the UK, and better for the EU, and work is already underway to achieve this. But, we should not shy away from the fact that currently the EU is refusing to make any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement. If they do not, we will of course have to leave the EU without a deal,” he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.
David added that if a “better deal” is not accepted, "we must be – and are – prepared to leave [the bloc] on our own terms”.
The remarks were preceded by Johnson delivering his first speech to Parliament as UK Prime Minister, in which he , in particular, signalled his readiness to negotiate "in good faith" with the EU on Brexit.
At the same time, he stressed that no country "with self-respect" could accept the "Irish backstop" and that this had to be abolished before the UK could accept a deal with Europe.
“I don't accept that they can only be solved by part of the UK remaining in the single market or the customs union....but I am ready to meet and talk with the European Commission whenever and wherever”, Johnson pointed out.
He added that he would “much prefer to leave the EU with a deal” and that he would “work flat out to make it happen”.
Separately, he told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the EU must abandon the Irish backstop if Brussels wants to reach an agreement on Brexit with the UK.
As a prime ministerial hopeful, Johnson repeatedly promised that Britain would pull out of the EU by October 31, even if the deal is not clinched by this deadline.
'No deal' has been widely described as a worst-case scenario, which is expected to take a toll on both Europe's economy and that of the UK.