Hammond regrets calling EU ‘the enemy’ over Brexit
UK chancellor laments ‘poor choice’ of words when discussing negotiations in Washington
British chancellor Philip Hammond: “The enemy, the opponents, are out there on the other side of the table. Those are the people that we have to negotiate with to get the very best deal for Britain.” File photograph: PA Wire
Mr Hammond, who has faced a wave of criticism from some Conservatives over his gloomy approach to Brexit, admitted that “passions are high” in the party but insisted he was fully signed up to the plans for Britain’s exit and turned his fire on Brussels.
Around 30 minutes later, however, Mr Hammond rowed back from the comments and talked instead of Britain’s “friends and partners” in the EU.
He tweeted: “In an interview today I was making the point that we are united at home. I regret I used a poor choice of words.
“We will work with our friends and partners in the EU on a mutually beneficial Brexit deal #noenemieshere.”
Mr Hammond made the controversial comments during a visit to Washington, where he is attending the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund.
He told Sky News: “I understand that passions are high, I understand that people have very strong views about this but we are all going to the same place.
“We all have the same agenda, we all signed up to the prime minister’s Lancaster House speech, we’re all signed up to the article 50 letter, we’re all behind the speech that she made in Florence.
“The enemy, the opponents, are out there on the other side of the table. Those are the people that we have to negotiate with to get the very best deal for Britain.”