WASHINGTON (Reuters) - British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Friday it was very likely that the idea of a second Brexit referendum would be put to parliament at some point, but time was tight before October when Britain is due to leave the European Union.
Hammond also said the process for choosing a new governor of the Bank of England was beginning ahead of the scheduled departure of current governor Mark Carney in January 2020.
Here is a selection of comments by Hammond who was speaking to reporters in Washington where is attending meetings at the International Monetary Fund.
ON A NO-DEAL BREXIT
“No-deal as an immediate threat is off the table. Clearly we could have been in a very different place today. But it hasn’t been removed altogether. It continues to exist. We are managing down the risks of no-deal.”
“Nobody should be under any illusion that if we were ever to get to no-deal, it would be a very uncomfortable place, both for the UK, for its impact on the European and hence the global economy.”
“I think we are in with a good chance of being able to reach an agreement on the way forward in the next few weeks. We are in discussion with the Labour Party.”
“We agree on quite a lot. The Labour Party is clear that we have to deliver Brexit. They are clear that we have to end free movement ... We have some disagreements on priorities and approach beyond that but we agree on fundamentals.”
“I remain optimistic that over the next couple of months we will get a deal done.”
“It’s no secret that the Labour Party regard a customs union as a negotiating objective for them.”
“Putting it on the table is not the same as having it agreed.”
“We haven’t set red lines. Everything is up for discussion.”
“You might argue that having an extension to the end of October creates that possibility. But if, in a couple of months’ time, we are taking a bill through parliament, then probably you are going to be struggling. Even if you wanted to organise a referendum, you would probably be struggling to do it in the time available.”
“I don’t think the decision the (European) Council made on Wednesday night makes it any more or less likely that that will happen. That in the end is an issue about parliament and parliamentary numbers, and where the Labour Party ends up on this, as the Labour Party itself is deeply divided on this issue and at some point it will have to decide on where it stands as a party.”
“Our challenge now and our focus is to get a deal that we can get through parliament agreed as quickly as possible ... shut down the uncertainty so we can unleash the very large stock of potential investment that is hanging over the UK economy in suspended animation while people wait to see how this pans out.”
“It’s a proposition that could and on all the evidence is very likely to be put to parliament at some stage.”
“The government’s position has not changed. The government is opposed to a confirmatory referendum and therefore we would not be supporting it.”
“The process is getting underway ... Obviously I would have preferred to have the Brexit issue resolved before we started the process. It is stating the blindingly obvious that there may be some candidates who might be deterred from an application because of the political debate around Brexit, which inevitably the governor of the Bank of England can’t avoid being part of... There may be some candidates who wouldn’t want to be exposed to that level of political debate.”
“I hope we get it resolved before we get to the short-listing stage.”
“I remember in July 2016 quite a lot of colleagues in the media said she wouldn’t last till Christmas. Here she is, three years later. She is remarkably robust and resilient, and determined to do what she thinks right.”
“Someone who recognises the Conservative Party is a broad church and a collation of views across a spectrum, and somebody that will pursue a policy agenda that is focused on ensuring Britain’s prosperity is protected.”
“This set of meetings is crucial to the debate about IMF quotas and funding for the IMF.”
“We all anticipate that as events unfold in Venezuela, at some point there will be a need for a major programme to support Venezuela. So the UK is very keen to ensure that the IMF in particular is properly funded.”
Reporting by David Milliken; Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Stephen Addison