The Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell has said that the Chancellor has shown “cowardice” over Brexit. McDonnell claims Philip Hammond could have done more to ensure Brexit isn’t hugely damaging to the economy.
He made the comments at a speech at Bloomberg today. McDonnell said: “The position of the chancellor of the exchequer comes with a responsibility which I think Philip Hammond actually has abdicated in his current role. If Brexit ends up leading to even half of what the government’s own forecasts suggest could happen, I think history will judge harshly the few who could have prevented and averted this potential disaster and did so little.”
He continued: “I think all this was avoidable were it not for the political weakness and yes, these are strong words, the cowardice of the chancellor of the exchequer.
“Failure to stand up for our economy and failure to stand up for the interests of our country.
“And whatever happens with Brexit, that’s damage to people’s lives that cannot be undone.”
He pulled no punches when commenting on Hammond’s reluctance to not rule out a no-deal Brexit. McDonnell said: We’re on the verge of a no-deal Brexit which could decimate British industry and bring about – in the words of the Bank of England – a worse economic catastrophe than the financial crisis ten years ago.
“Philip Hammond has repeatedly spoken about the dangers of a no-deal Brexit. But here we are, a couple of weeks away from one, and all he has to show for his high office is words. Can you imagine Rab Butler, Nigel Lawson or Ken Clarke allowing their Cabinet colleagues to best them in this way? Let alone Hugh Gaitskell, Denis Healey or Gordon Brown?”