Boris fires back at Brexit ‘blocker’ Hammond with promise ‘we are leaving October 31’

FORMER chancellor Philip Hammond has accused Boris Johnson of trying to wreck Britain’s chances of leaving the European Union with a withdrawal agreement but the Downing Street has fired back.

Mr Hammond said the new Prime Minister knew demands for Brussels to remove the backstop could never be met and warned a no-deal Brexit would be a betrayal of the 2016 EU referendum. The MP for Runnymede and Weybridge said he was busting two “great myths” over a no deal Brexit, arguing it will be damaging to the nation - both economically and to the union - and that voters do not back the move.

We are leaving on October 31 despite the former chancellor’s best efforts to the contrary

Government source

Mr Hammond, who resigned in anticipation of Mr Johnson becoming Prime Minister, urged the Tory leader to take the UK out of the EU with a deal in place.

But he said early signs for that “are not encouraging”, warning the move from demanding changes to the backstop to demanding its total removal was “a pivot from a tough negotiating stance to a wrecking one”.

Downing Street hit back with a Government source accusing Mr Hammond of having done “everything he could to block preparations for leaving and undermined negotiations” he was when chancellor.

Philip Hammond

Philip Hammond said a no deal Brexit would be a betrayal (Image: GETTY)

The source said: “We are leaving on October 31 and we will be ready to do so despite the former chancellor’s best efforts to the contrary.

“Philip Hammond actively undermined the Govternment’s negotiating position by frustrating and obstructing preparation to leave EU.

“Everyone knows the ex-chancellor's real objective was to cancel the referendum result.”

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson (Image: PA)

Mr Hammond said: “The unelected people who pull the strings of this Government know that this is a demand the EU cannot and will not accede to.

“Most people in this country want to see us leave in a smooth and orderly fashion that will not disrupt lives, cost jobs or diminish living standards, whether they voted Leave or Remain in 2016.

“Parliament faithfully reflects the view of that majority and it will make its voice heard.

“No deal would be a betrayal of the 2016 referendum result. It must not happen.”

READ MORE: Philip Hammond savages Johnson for allowing 'unelected people'

Dominic Cummings

Dominic Cummings (Image: PA)

Mr Hammond also accused “some key figures in the Government” of “absurdly” suggesting no-deal would boost the UK’s economy.

He and 20 other senior Tories are understood to have written to Mr Johnson warning his demands to abolish the backstop “set the bar so high that there is no realistic probability of a deal being done”.

He wrote in The Times: “In 2016 the British people were invited to vote for a Brexit with a deal, and by a small margin they did so.

“They were told that a deal to protect Britain’s trade with the EU — our largest export market by far — would be ‘easy’ to do.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has vowed to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 (Image: PA)

“To pretend now that 2016 Leave voters voted for a hard no deal Brexit is a total travesty of the truth.

“As the BBC’s ‘reality check’ had to remind Dominic Raab, now the foreign secretary, the possibility of no deal was not ‘regularly raised’ during the referendum campaign.

“Michael Gove put it best in March this year when he said: ‘We didn’t vote to leave without a deal. That wasn’t the message of the campaign I helped lead’.”

DON'T MISSTrump's backing of no deal Brexit should scare EU, says TIM NEWARK[OPINION]
Boris Johnson boost: Express.co.uk readers BACK plan to deliver Brexit[POLL]
Brexit news: Will UK thrive after Brexit?[ANALYSIS]

Philip Hammond

Philip Hammond said suggestions no deal would boost the economy were absurd (Image: GETTY)

Mr Johnson’s Brexit plans may be jeopardised early next month after a court agreed to fast-track a hearing on whether he can legally prorogue Parliament.

A judge in Edinburgh agreed to expedite a legal challenge from anti-Brexit campaigners including more than 70 MPs and peers.