Philip Hammond hits out at Macron over ‘bizarre’ Brexit fishing threat

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond | Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

Philip Hammond hits out at Macron over ‘bizarre’ Brexit fishing threat

‘His domestic audience was getting a bit frisky,’ UK chancellor says.

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11/28/18, 12:08 PM CET

Updated 11/28/18, 12:38 PM CET

French President Emmanuel Macron’s “bizarre suggestion” that the Brexit deal gives the EU considerable leverage to force the U.K. to grant EU fishing boats access to its waters was aimed at a “frisky” domestic audience, U.K. Chancellor Philip Hammond said Wednesday.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today program, Hammond linked Macron’s comments on Sunday that the U.K.’s exit from the Northern Ireland backstop could become contingent on an EU-friendly deal on fishing to the protests against fuel tax rises in France.

“I understand why President Macron felt the need to say what he did. He’s obviously got his own domestic audience, and his domestic audience was getting a bit frisky on Sunday as I remember the events in Paris,” Hammond said. “But what he said is actually slightly bizarre, because the backstop arrangement that he’s threatening to, quote, ‘keep us in,’ would give him no ability to access British waters.”

Two people have been killed and over 600 injured since the French protests against gas price hikes began.

Hammond also said during the interview that the government would not publish its legal advice on the Brexit deal, despite a binding commons motion passed earlier this month.

“No, there’s a very important principle here that the government must be able to commission impartial legal advice that tells it absolutely like it is,” Hammond said. 

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