The former Chancellor has been furiously condemned by Downing Street sources, with one telling The Times that “Hammond actively undermined the Government’s negotiating position by frustrating and obstructing preparation to leave EU”. The source added: “Everyone knows the ex-chancellor’s real objective was to cancel the referendum result.” This comes as a senior cabinet source claimed that Mr Hammond discussed seeking advice from the Electoral Commission to help the Government prepare for a second referendum. And, further claims accused him of canvassing opinion to overturn the referendum last September.
The Electoral Commission is the body that regulates party and election finance and determines the standards for how elections should be run.
In April, during a Cabinet meeting, Mr Hammond suggested that the Government should make a “big offer” of a second referendum to Labour in an effort to push through Theresa May’s hard-pressed withdrawal agreement.
In a telling interview, a senior Cabinet source told The Telegraph how Mr Hammond went behind the Cabinet’s back and sought to plan a second referendum.
They said: “When Philip discussed this he was already making the case for delaying the exit date to other Cabinet ministers.
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“He didn’t make this plain at Cabinet but behind the scenes he was telling ministers that he was looking into the option of a second referendum very seriously.”
On Wednesday a letter from the then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Michael Gove co-wrote a letter to the Prime Minister expressing their concern over a lack of no deal preparations back in October 2017.
The letter said: “If we do not put in place the mechanisms to deal with such an outcome, our negotiating position will be fatally undermined. If the EU believe we cannot in fact manage a “no deal” scenario, our end date will not be credible and everyone would believe we would have to accept a further extension of the implementation period.
“Stakeholders may also come to believe that we are not negotiating seriously for any outcome other than a UK-EU relationship in which there is practically no divergence from Single Market and other EU rules.”
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Mr Hammond used a column in The Times on Wednesday to condemn the “unelected people” who might betray the EU referendum result by pushing no deal.
Many Tory peers were quick to call out Mr Hammond’s hypocrisy.
Former Brexit secretary David Davis said: “It’s a bit rich for Mr Hammond to talk about betrayal when the UK took a decision which his department during his tenure did next to nothing to deliver.”
The UK is currently set to leave the EU on October 31 if a deal cannot be struck before then.