GIVEN the extent to which the Brexit debate, and negotiations, have been characterised by the personalities of the key protagonists, rather than their policies, some in the Government will dismiss Philip Hammond’s latest intervention as Project Fear scaremongering by Remain supporters.
It’s not. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, it would have been remiss of Mr Hammond not to highlight the International Monetary Fund’s candid assessment which warns that leaving the EU without a Brexit deal would inflict “substantial costs” on the economy. Imagine the outcry if it later emerged that the Treasury had ignored an economist of the repute of IMF managing director Christine Lagarde.
Rather than Ministers briefing against Mr Hammond, and his stance at last week’s Cabinet meeting when Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned about a sharp fall in house prices, they should be rallying round Theresa May ahead of her meeting with her European counterparts – there are suggestions, and no more, that the EU is coming round to the PM’s plan for the Irish border and the use of technology to monitor trade.
And, given that all Ministers are supposed to be signed up to Mrs May’s Chequers plan if the doctrine of collective responsibility still means anything, they should be taking to the debate to the EU, and presenting an united front, rather than arguing amongst themselves as they allow themselves to be distracted by leadership speculation at such a critical time for the nation’s future prosperity.