U.K. Chancellor Philip Hammond has criticized the spending plans put forward by the contenders to be the next prime minister, warning that the “fiscal firepower” built up for a no-deal Brexit will only be available to spend if an “orderly transition” happens.
“If not, it will all be needed to plug the hole a no-deal Brexit will make in the public finances,” the Financial Times reports Hammond as saying. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson have outlined their respective budget priorities over the past couple of days, pledging to splurge billions.
The prime ministerial hopefuls head to Northern Ireland today to drum up support. The border with the Republic of Ireland is expected to be the main topic of discussion. Hunt has said he thinks there is a technological solution “there now”, but Johnson said the issue could be solved during the implementation period after the U.K. officially departs.
The date for the UK’s exit from the EU has been a hot topic once again. Johnson, who is ahead in the leadership race, on Monday claimed that only he will be able to deliver Brexit by October 31, with or without a deal. One of his allies has criticized Hunt’s more flexible stance, saying he should not be “hiding behind papier-mâché deadlines”.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Sky News Hunt claimed that German chancellor Angela Merkel is open to looking at an alternative Brexit deal. He has upset civil servants by threatening to cancel leave unless they can convince him that they are ready for a no-deal exit, The Times says.
The Guardian reports that both Johnson and Hunt have caused controversy by backing the idea of freeports on the east coast of the U.K., where imports would be free of taxes or tariffs. Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey said such a move could “facilitate money laundering”.