William Hague, the former Foreign Secretary, has backed Philip Hammond in the debate about whether there should be a transitional period on freedom of movement following Britain leaving the EU in early 2019.
Hague wrote in the Daily Telegraph:
“What is quite obviously needed is an approach that cuts through all of these problems simultaneously; that makes the negotiations simpler, reduces the need for rushed legislation, reassures the business world and commands wide support across Parliament.
Is it possible to do that? Yes, and the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, deserves great credit for putting forward such an approach. He has evidently been trying to persuade his Cabinet colleagues that we should be seeking to stay in the EU single market and customs union during a transition and “implementation” phase lasting to 2022, followed by a free trade deal with our former partners after that.
This is seen by longstanding advocates of leaving as a “soft” position or a climbdown. But in reality it is a plan to rescue Brexit from an approaching disaster”.
Theresa May, the Prime Minister, was forced to clarify Government policy as the Cabinet publicly split on the issue. A spokesman for the Prime Minister said:
“It would be wrong to speculate that free movement will continue as it is now”.