British Prime Minister Theresa May rebuked Chancellor Philip Hammond for his assessment that a no-deal Brexit could cause an economic disaster, reiterating her position that leaving the EU without a deal is “better than a bad deal.”
“First of all, the chancellor was talking about a set of figures that I think came out in January,” May told reporters on her way to South Africa for a five-day African tour designed to showcase British plans to focus on new emerging markets post Brexit.
“I think when they came out I was very clear on a previous trip that those figures were a work in progress at that particular time.”
Hammond noted in a letter to the treasury select committee last week that a no-deal outcome would have “large fiscal consequences” amounting to an £80 billion-a-year increase in borrowing by 2033.
“I’ve said right from the beginning that no deal is better than a bad deal,” May said. “I think it is absolutely right that the government is putting the preparations in place for no deal, because we don’t know what the outcome of this is going to be.”
Leaving the bloc without a deal would “not be a walk in the park” but would “not be the end of the world,” she said.
May also insisted the October deadline for agreeing the Withdrawal Agreement — which is looking increasingly difficult to meet — came from Brussels, not London.
“Well we’re still working hard to make sure we get that good deal and we get that good deal within the timetable and that enables us to leave on March 29, 2019 with that deal,” she said.