LUXEMBOURG, June 14 (Reuters) - Britain’s finance minister Philip Hammond said he would not serve under a prime minister who was prepared to leave the European Union without a deal, as proposed by Boris Johnson and other contenders to become Britain’s next leader.
Hammond, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of EU finance ministers in Luxembourg on Friday, also warned whoever succeeds Theresa May not to withhold Britain’s dues to the bloc.
“I don’t think this is about personalities, it’s about policies,” Hammond said when asked if he would serve as a minister under Johnson, the front-runner in the Conservative Party leadership race..
“Before I could serve in any government, I would want to look at the policies that the prime minister was setting out. I would not be able to serve in a government which had as its policy leaving the European Union without a deal,” he said.
Johnson has said Britain should be prepared to leave the EU without a deal on Oct. 31 and that withholding the nearly 50 billion euros ($56 billion) that May last year agreed to pay the EU could help Britain get a better deal.
“We’ve always said that the UK is a country which honours its obligations,” Hammond said.
“At least part of the sum that was agreed to be paid is part of our obligations under the existing MFF (long-term EU budget). So I would not recommend any of my colleagues to threaten to withhold payments which are part of an existing obligation the UK has,” Hammond said. (Reporting by Hortense de Roffignac Writing by Jan Strupczewski Editing by William Schomberg)