Hammond now tells French he will do ‘everything within my power’ to stop a no deal Brexit

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The three-year Brexit deadlock received a glimmer of light after PM-hopeful Boris Johnson said that he would not hesitate to leave the bloc without a divorce deal in October, a decision fiercely rejected by lawmakers. Asked by France’s Le Monde newspaper on Thursday whether delaying Brexit “again and again” was a good idea, the Chancellor said: “No. But in practice, an extension of the [Brexit] deadline is absolutely necessary. Between the summer break, the arrival of the new [European] Commission and the new British government, it is simply impossible to negotiate anything before October 31. If the next government is sincere in its willingness to reach an agreement with Europe, then it must ask for more time. “If it does not, parliament will insist on another delay.”

Boris Johnson, the favourite to take over from Theresa May as Prime Minister, has repeatedly said he is prepared to leave the bloc without an agreement if necessary, but Mr Hammond has warned doing so would cost the UK billions of pounds.

Mr Hammond, who is poised to quit before Mr Johnson becomes prime minister next week, added that he would “do everything that is within my power to make sure parliament blocks a no deal Brexit”.

He added: “There should be a new and sincere attempt to reach a consensus. If we do not find a solution with lawmakers, we may have to ask the British to give their opinion [on Brexit] again, one way or another.”

Mr Hammond, a Remainer, has irked Leave supporters by making clear his opposition to a no deal Brexit.

European leaders, for their part, have repeatedly rejected British calls to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement signed off by Mrs May last year, insisting it is “the best and only possible deal”.

Mr Hammond, however, said the bloc remained “flexible” and would be willing to tweak the political declaration that accompanies the Brexit deal.

He said: “The EU has made it clear that it does not wish to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement. But it has explained that it can be more flexible with regards to the political declaration that lays out [the principles of] our future relationship.

“The way forward is to discuss the issue further and to attempt to solve Britain’s Brexit problems.”

This was in reference to the Irish border problem.

Branding “some” hardline, eurosceptic Brexiteers as “deliberately noisy, vulgar and feckless,” Mr Hammond said he hoped the UK would “remain a member of the European family” after Brexit.

The Brexit crisis has worsened since Mr Johnson pledged to quit the EU with or without a deal in place in October, with many expressing concern doing so could set the new government on a collision course with the bloc and parliament.

Mr Johnson has also refused to rule out suspending the House of Commons to stop lawmakers from passing legislation to block his Brexit plan if he decides to crash out of the EU without a deal.

But defiant lawmakers on Thursday approved proposals to make it more difficult for the next premier to push through a no deal Brexit by suspending parliament, showing their determination to prevent such a scenario unfolding.

Lawmakers adopted by a 315-274 margin a proposal that would require parliament to be sitting to consider Northern Irish affairs for several days in September and October even if it was suspended.

They also endorsed a requirement for ministers to make fortnightly reports on progress towards re-establishing Northern Ireland’s collapsed, devolved executive and to give lawmakers an opportunity to debate and approve those reports.

While the measures do not amount to an outright block on suspending parliament, they could make it much more difficult to bypass lawmakers.

Those hoping to stop a no deal Brexit believe that if parliament is sitting in the run-up to October 31, they will have the chance to prevent Britain leaving without a deal, the current legal default position.

Critics have warned that a hard Brexit could undermine global growth, hurt financial markets and weaken London’s position as an international financial hub.

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