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Hammond and Fox unite in post
Liam Fox © Chatham House

Hammond and Fox unite in post-Brexit deal call

14/08/17Government

The UK will need a transition period to allow businesses to adjust after Brexit, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for International Trade have said.

In a joint Sunday Telegraph article, Philip Hammond and Liam Fox emphasised that any deal would not be indefinite or a ‘back door’ to remaining in the EU.

Their comments are being seen as an attempt to show unity between rival sides in Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet.

The Liberal Democrats said Hammond had ‘been brought back in line’.

“What this is about is getting Philip Hammond back on track with a hard Brexit programme,” Tom Brake, the party’s foreign affairs spokesman, said.

“What we don’t know from this letter is exactly how this is going to work. It’s also not clear how long the transition period is going to be.”

The letter comes as ministers begin to outline their aims for Brexit.

A series of papers is being published, including one this week covering what will happen to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after the UK has left the EU.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Hammond and Fox said the UK would leave both the customs union and the single market when it exits the EU in March 2019.

They said a ‘time-limited’ transition period would ‘further our national interest and give business greater certainty’ – but warned it would not stop Brexit.

‘We are both clear that during this period the UK will be outside the single market and outside the customs union and will be a “third country” not party to EU treaties,’ they said.

They said the UK’s borders ‘must continue to operate smoothly’, that goods bought on the internet ‘must still cross borders’, and ‘businesses must still be able to supply their customers across the EU’ in the weeks and months after Brexit.

Pan European Networks Ltd