Downing Street has insisted it still has “full confidence” in Philip Hammond, as the Chancellor doubled down on comments that sparked fury from Brexiteers.
Speaking in Davos, Mr Hammond brushed away criticism for saying the UK and EU economies would move apart “very modestly” after separating.
He said there were people on “both sides of the argument” who “do not support us in our intention to deliver the Brexit people voted for”.
And the Chancellor revealed he had not spoken to Theresa May since Number 10 stepped in to avert a Conservative party civil war breaking into the open.
Image: Theresa May could find she has a rebellion from the Brexit supporters in her party
He told Sky News from the World Economic Forum in Davos: “There are people that want us to stay in the EU customs union, we reject that argument.
“There are people that want us to sever our trade links with Europe and give up this market, we reject their arguments too.
“We’ve got to stick to the middle way, which is negotiating the maximum access we can get to European markets, compatible with the red lines that we’ve already set out.”
He added: “The smaller the changes that happen to our access to markets and the frictions at the borders, the better.
“We want maximum access to the European market; we want minimum friction at our borders and I’m confident that we will be able to negotiate a bespoke agreement with the EU that delivers those things.”
Image: David Davis
Earlier, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman insisted the whole Cabinet was “signed up to her Brexit strategy”.
Brexit Secretary David Davis is due to give a speech later on Friday that the Government hopes will calm Eurosceptic Tory MP’s fears of a “soft Brexit”.
He will claim the UK will be able to negotiate deals as soon as it leaves the EU, even though it will still follow many of Brussels’ rules.
But an intervention by Bank of England governor Mark Carney risked overshadowing the positive predictions.
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He told the BBC’s Today programme growth will be 2% lower by the end of the year than it would have been were it not for the Leave vote, citing forecasts from the International Monetary Fund.
Mr Carney declined to explicitly back the Chancellor’s call for a “modest” change after Brexit, but did say: “The deeper the relationship with the rest of the world, the better it is going to be for the economy.”
Source: Sky News