Philip Hammond Refuses to Say if He Would Back Brexit in Fresh Referendum


Philip Hammond, the British finance minister, refused to inform reporters on Friday whether he would vote for Brexit if there were a second referendum on the European Union membership of Britain.

Hammond, who campaigned for Britain to remain part of the European Union in the June 2016 referendum, has faced criticism from supporters of Brexit that he is too downbeat regarding the prospects of Britain after it is scheduled to withdraw from the bloc in March 2019.

“I am committed to delivering a Brexit deal that works for Britain,” said Hammond in a BBC interview in Washington, where he was attending a meeting of the International Monetary Fund.

Echoing Theresa May’s own reticence regarding the issue, Hammond declined to reveal how he would vote if another referendum were held now. “We’ve had the referendum,” said Hammond. “You know how I voted in it.”

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Theresa May declined to answer a similar question, spurring concerns among supporters of Brexit that she is not fully committed to taking Britain out of the European Union.

On Thursday, Theresa May’s spokesperson said that the prime minister had full confidence in Hammond, following criticism from Nigel Lawson, one of his Conservative predecessors and a strong supporter of Brexit who served as finance minister in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher.

Lawson said that Hammond appeared overly unwilling to allocate government money to prepare for Brexit. Earlier this week, Hammond stated that it was too soon to begin spending significant money on such preparations.

On Friday, the Financial Times quoted Hammond as stating “the Treasury and other departments are planning for a full range of scenarios and will make sure there are resources for all scenarios”.