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Philip Hammond says criticism over Brexit comments 'absurd'

From BBC - October 13, 2017

The chancellor has described as "bizarre" and "absurd" accusations he is talking down the economy.

Philip Hammond had been criticised for saying that the Brexit process has created uncertainty.

But in an interview, Mr Hammond said he was a realist and that he wanted to "protect and prepare" the economy for the challenges ahead.

Mr Hammond was speaking in Washington, where he is attending an International Monetary Fund meeting.

The chancellor said: "It is absurd to pretend that the process we are engaged in has not created some uncertainty. But the underlying economy remains robust.

"I am committed to delivering a Brexit deal that works for Britain," he added.

He refused to answer how he would vote if another referendum was held now. "We have had the referendum," he said. "You know how I voted in it."

'Sabotage'

This week, former Conservative Chancellor Nigel Lawson called for Mr Hammond to be sacked, saying he was unhelpful to the Brexit process.

Lord Lawson said: "What he [Mr Hammond] is doing is very close to sabotage".

Responding to these comments, Mr Hammond said: "Lord Lawson is entitled to his view on this and many other subjects and is not afraid to express it, but I think he's wrong."

The chancellor, who has been accused of being too pessimistic about Brexit, told the Treasury Committee of MPs this week that a "cloud of uncertainty" over the outcome of negotiations was "acting as a dampener" on the economy.

Brexit preparations

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