Britain prepared to leave EU's single market

Restrictions on immigration are to take priority post-Brexit...

Britain prepared to leave EU's single market

Philip Hammond. Image: Laura Lean / PA Wire/Press Association Images

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond is apparently ready to accept that Britain will have to surrender its membership of the European Union's single market in order to secure the immigration restrictions that 'Leave' voters demanded in June.

Bloomberg reports two anonymous officials close to Hammond as saying that he believes it is unrealistic to expect to be included in the single market, which gives UK banks important access to its continental clients, after Brexit is completed.

The UK government is instead "staking its credibility" on regaining control over its borders and stemming the flow of migrants.

Meanwhile, the UK Treasury is set to argue that London is too valuable a financial centre for the EU to not allow Britain's financial services firms to retain similar levels of access to Europe.

Hammond had told a House of Lords Committee earlier this month:

"I genuinely believe London delivers not only for the UK, but the European Union as a whole".

At a meeting without Britain in Bratislava last week, EU leaders expressed the opinion that the UK would push to retain access.

European Council President Donald Tusk said of the suggestion that they would surrender it:

"I can't even believe that it is possible, it is too important for them."

Speaking at a Lib Dem conference today, Nick Clegg stated that leaving the single market as part of a Brexit deal would do "untold damage" to the UK economy.

Clegg, who is now the Lib Dem EU spokesman, said that the government was "up a Brexit creek without a paddle, a canoe or a map – they have absolutely no clue."