UK Finance minister Philip Hammond challenged the two rivals to become Britain’s prime minister over their spending promises on Monday, warning that walking away from the European Union without a deal would use up the extra money in the budget.
With former London mayor Boris Johnson and foreign minister Jeremy Hunt stepping up their campaigns to replace Theresa May, both have turned their attention to how they would run a country which is deeply divided after Britain’s 2016 EU referendum.
They have promised to increase spending, particularly on public services, infrastructure and tax cuts, but they also say they are willing to take Britain out of the EU without a deal, an outcome that Hammond said would use up his war chest of almost 27 billion pounds.
“The ‘fiscal firepower’ we have built up in case of a no-deal Brexit will only be available for extra spending if we leave with an orderly transition,” Hammond said on Twitter “If not it will all be needed to plug the hole a no-deal Brexit will make in the public finances.”
More than three years since it voted to leave the EU, Britain is mired in uncertainty over whether it will leave with a deal or not, or even if Brexit will happen at all.