Philip Hammond has warned MPs it is “simply a delusion” to believe a better Brexit deal can be renegotiated at the 11th hour.
The Chancellor also claimed the alternatives to Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement are no deal or no Brexit, and said either of these will create a “divided” Britain.
Mr Hammond sought to increase the pressure on MPs to back the Government’s deal shortly after Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom confirmed the vote is still scheduled for December 11 despite suggestions it could be shelved due to a lack of support.
Opening the third day of debate on the deal, Mr Hammond said: “I have observed this process at close quarters for two-and-a-half years and I’m absolutely clear about one thing, this deal is the best deal to exit the EU that is available or that is going to be available.
“The idea that there’s an option of renegotiating at the 11th hour is simply a delusion.
“We need to be honest with ourselves, the alternatives to this deal are no deal or no Brexit.
“Either will leave us a fractured society and a divided nation.
“Only the compromise of this negotiated deal, delivering on the referendum result by leaving the EU, ending free movement of people and reasserting our sovereign control over our laws while at the same time maintaining the closest possible trade, security and cultural links with the European Union to protect our jobs, our living standards and our values, can allow our country to move on.
“Only that compromise can bring us back together after Brexit is delivered, and we should remember the lesson of history, that divided nations are not successful nations.”
Mr Hammond earlier said he wanted to reject the calls of those who would prefer to “plunge the country into the uncertainty and economic self-harm of no deal” and of those who want a second referendum, which he claimed would “fuel a narrative of betrayal”.
The Chancellor later told MPs that the “economy has always been at the heart of the UK’s relationship with Europe” and warned that a no-deal Brexit would “destroy” much of the 45-year-old trading relationship overnight.
He said: “For most of us who campaigned to remain in the EU in 2016 it was certainly not the political intuitions and the paraphernalia of the union that provided the motivation to do so but a hard-nosed appraisal of our economic interests.
“The fact is our economic and trading relationship with the EU has been built over 45 years and during that time our economies have shaped themselves around each other and become inextricably intertwined, supply chains crisscross borders, work forces draw on talent from across the continent.”
He added: “While new trade partnerships with countries outside the EU undoubtedly offer new and exciting opportunities for UK companies, the analysis the Government published last week is clear that the benefits flowing from new FTAs would not compensate for the loss of EU trade from a no-deal exit.”
- Press Association