A Brexit deal that puts jobs and prosperity first is the only way the UK will be able to deliver the strong growth that will enable it finally to escape from the long years of austerity, the chancellor has said.
In his strongest call yet for a managed approach, Philip Hammond said a comprehensive trade agreement, a transitional deal after the 2019 deadline for the end of talks, and a commitment to keep borders open should form a three-point Brexit for Britain.
There would be “audible sighs of relief”, he said, if the talks that began in Brussels on Monday ended with a business-friendly agreement.
Hammond said in a speech at Mansion House in the City of London: “I have said before, and I remain clear today, that when the British people voted last June, they did not vote to become poorer or less secure.
“They did vote to leave the EU. And we will leave the EU. But it must be done in a way that works for Britain. In a way that prioritises British jobs, and underpins Britain’s prosperity. Anything less will be a failure to deliver on the instructions of the British people.”
Hammond, who campaigned for remain in the referendum and has been arguing in cabinet against the idea of Britain leaving the EU without a deal, said the result of the general election had shown that the country was “weary after seven years of hard slog repairing the damage of the great recession”.
But he added that funding for public services could only be delivered by higher taxes, higher borrowing or stronger economic growth. The chancellor said the latter was the only long-term sustainable solution for this country in the face of the pressure of an ageing population.
Hammond said the future of the economy was inexorably linked to the kind of Brexit deal reached with the EU.
He told the audience of financiers: “I am confident we can do a Brexit deal that puts jobs and prosperity first, that reassures employers that they will still be able to access the talent they need, that…