Categories: Foreign

UK finance minister says time running out on Brexit

LONDON: Britain’s finance minister Philip Hammond said on Tuesday time was running out to secure a Brexit deal and confirmed that Bank of England Governor Mark Carney had agreed to stay to help the country through “a turbulent period” for its economy.

Hammond said the government was devoting all its efforts to securing a deal on a new relationship with the European Union before Britain leaves the bloc in March next year but admitted the clock was ticking.

“Time is running out. We are working against the clock, we understand that,” Hammond told parliament. “We will be working flat out over the coming weeks and months to achieve (a deal).”

Hammond also confirmed that Carney, who said last week he was prepared to stay in his job beyond next June when his term was due to end, had agreed to remain until 2020.

“I have been discussing with the governor his ability to be able to serve a little longer in post in order to ensure continuity through what could be quite a turbulent period for our economy in the early summer of 2019,” Hammond said.

“I can tell the House today that the governor has agreed, despite various personal pressures to conclude his term in June, that he will continue until the end of January 2020, in order to help support continuity in our economy during this period.”

The United Kingdom will leave the EU on March 29 but as yet no full exit deal has been agreed and many lawmakers in Prime Minister Theresa May’s own party object to her own so-called Chequers proposals.

Her spokesman said May saw an informal EU summit in Salzburg next week as a “staging post” in Brexit negotiations that would allow EU leaders to discuss her proposals for the first time.

“It will also be the first time the leaders will discuss together the UK government’s white paper which put forward a series of credible and serious proposals,” he told reporters.

The Chequers proposals envisage continued close trade ties with the EU after Brexit.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has criticized aspects of May’s blueprint but said on Monday he believed a Brexit deal was possible “within six or eight weeks”, in comments that lifted the pound currency against the euro and dollar.

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