By Shane McGinley
Former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, says it could take months to resolve Brexit
A victory for British prime minster Boris Johnson in Thursday’s general election will not mean an automatic resolution to the Brexit issue as there will be many “more bumps in the road”.
Former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, highlighted a “massive discrepancy” between how long British and European leaders believe it will take to resolve the issues.
Following a June 2016 referendum, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. While the process has gone through a length negotiating process, the withdrawal deadline has been delayed three times and is now set for January 31, 2020.
In order to achieve a mandate to negotiate a new agreement, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called a snap general election for December 12.
“Well, first of all, in the election that's going to happen on Thursday, my working assumption is that Boris Johnson will win with a working majority and therefore the logjam in the parliament will be unstuck,” Hammond said during a panel discussion at the SALT Abu Dhabi forum at the Emirates Palace on Tuesday.
“So, in the most simplistic sense, Brexit will be done, he'll force through the deal that he agreed to with the European Union in September with the Northern Ireland only backstop arrangement. But the challenge for him, the political challenge in the UK, is that [it] isn't really the end of a process, that's the beginning of a process,” he said.
The Member of Parliament, who resigned from cabinet when Boris Johnson was elected prime minster following the resignation of Theresa May, said there are a number of issues that still need to be resolved, such as “what Britain's future relationship is going to be; what the level of tariff free access to goods between the UK and the European Union will be; what the level of financial services and cross-border access will be. All of that has still to be negotiated”.
The 64-year-old politician, who has been an MP since 1997, said the biggest stumbling block for Johnson was the fact that there is big difference between how long British and EU leaders believe it will take to resolve these issues.
“There's a massive discrepancy between what British politicians who are pro-Brexit claim to believe it's possible - we can get this all done in a few months and it's going to be a great arrangement that allows us essentially carry on exactly as we are now - and what European Union politicians expect to believe that it will take many years to agree a future relationship,” he said.
“So, I'm afraid if anyone is expecting that a clear Boris victory in the general election on Thursday will mean that in 2020 British politics returns to normal, confidence recovers and everything goes forward, I'm afraid I think that we've got a few more bumps in the road as people work out what it really means to do Brexit,” he added.