Britain needs to offer certainty to firms, clarify Brexit plan-Hammond

Britain needs to offer certainty to firms, clarify Brexit plan-Hammond”

But the chancellor tried to give a less embarrassing response, sending a thinly-veiled warning amid speculation that the Foreign Secretary is trying to destabilise Theresa May.

Mr Hammond affirmed his "100% support" for the Prime Minister and denied reports that he had sent a 4am text to Mr Johnson on the night of the general election offering him his support for the leadership as the disappointing results became clear.

Philip Hammond acknowledged that uncertainty over European Union withdrawal negotiations were causing "a pause in business investment" which was harming the United Kingdom economy, and said it was the duty of all Cabinet ministers to "pull their weight" in support of the Prime Minister.

Doing the rounds of this morning's broadcast interviews, Mr Hammond told ITV: "I have always operated on the principle that it is probably best to believe that nobody is unsackable". Everybody has got to pull their weight within the Government'.

In his keynote speech to the conference later, Mr Hammond is set to announce an extra £300m to improve rail links in the north of England.

At the Conservative Party's annual conference in Manchester, northern England, Hammond told BBC radio that uncertainty was hurting business confidence but the government had decided on an around two-year transition period to help ease Brexit.

The Foreign Secretary called it "extraordinary" so much fuss had been made for what he called a repetition of Government policy.

Philip Hammond has warned Boris Johnson that he risks weakening Britain's hand in Brexit negotiations by consistently exposing Cabinet divisions. 'She has indicated that she intends to fight the next election as leader of the Conservative Party. "If she does so, she will have my support".

Mr Hammond will add: "We are the party of progress".

The Chancellor previously advocated for a transition into Brexit Britain "of between three and four years" to avoid disruption to British businesses and unnecessary blows to the economy.

Divided over Brexit from activist level right up to cabinet ministers, and losing public support to a resurgent Labour led by socialist Jeremy Corbyn, May is leading a fragile minority government.

"Our economy is not broken: it is fundamentally strong", he will say according to advance extracts of his speech.

In a separate appearance on Sky News, the Chancellor called for greater unity from his colleagues.

The Chancellor said that the length of the coveted Brexit transitional deal with Brussels is now "flexible" but precise enough to help businesses plan for the future.

Hammond's words echo those of May, who last week issued her own defence of capitalism - a sign of growing concern about the threat Labour poses to the pro-business orthodoxy which has underpinned British economic policy since Margaret Thatcher's reforms in the 1980s. "We had a Cabinet discussion before the speech and the whole Cabinet signed up to that position".

Asked on Monday about Mr Johnson's position, the chancellor - who has himself between criticised by some Tory MP for being too pessimistic about Brexit - said all ministers served at the prime minister's discretion. At the moment that points to a period of around two years.

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