Chancellor Philip Hammond has warned the EU that Britain will “fight back” and not “slink off like a wounded animal” if it does not get the Brexit deal it wants.
In some of the toughest talking yet ahead of the UK triggering the Article 50 negotiations on terms of withdrawal, the Chancellor said Britain would “do whatever we need to do” to be competitive in the event of leaving the EU without a trade agreement.
Mr Hammond told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “If there is anybody in the European Union who thinks that if we don’t do a deal with the European Union, if we don’t continue to work closely together, Britain will simply slink off as a wounded animal, that is not going to happen.
“British people have a great fighting spirit and we will fight back. We will forge new trade deals around the world. We will build our business globally.
“We will go on from strength to strength and we will do whatever we need to do to make the British economy competitive and to make sure that this country has a great and successful future.”
Asked if this meant the UK would slash business taxes to attract investment away from the EU, the Chancellor said: “People can read what they like into it. I’m not going to speculate now on how the UK would respond to what I don’t expect to be the outcome.
“But we are going into a negotiation. We expect to be able to achieve a comprehensive free trade deal with our European Union partners, but they should know that the alternative isn’t Britain just slinking away into a corner.”