No-Deal Brexit: Short Positions Against the Pound

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 30th September 2019.

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Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke The Exchequer Secretary

The right hon. Gentleman talks about uncertainty, but the only people generating uncertainty in this place are the Opposition. It is they who are selling this country short. They will not vote for a deal, they will not vote for no deal, and they will not vote for a general election. As anyone who talks to British business knows, the main threat to our economy would come from the economic policies we heard set out in Brighton last week.

As I set out in my remarks, the Government’s central position is that we are working to secure a good deal, and the focus of that will be at the summit on 17 and 18 October. That remains our overwhelming focus and our best hope. Clearly, it does not help when the Opposition come together to remove our negotiating leverage in those vital talks.

The right hon. Gentleman referenced the former Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am grateful to Mr Hammond for all the work he did as Chancellor to help prepare for no deal. We have been able to build on that over the last few weeks. I would note, however, when it comes to some of the more outlandish speculation in this area, that Frances Coppola in the Financial Times, in an article entitled, “The Mythical Bets On No-Deal Brexit”, wrote yesterday that this was yet another “tinfoil hat conspiracy theory”. That is about the sum of the merit of this debate.

The Government will not comment on individual positions—no one would expect us to—or the actions of individuals. We do not accept that there is any prospect of a conflict of interest. Insofar as anyone needs standing up to, it is not my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister; it is the right hon. Gentleman, who is making a political and, dare I say it, speculative attempt to throw mud around the House. I did not hear anything in his statement or questions that amounted to a substantive point; they amounted to trying to propagate myths and to smear. In a week when we are trying to lower the temperature in the House, the Opposition seem intent on stoking it. I have nothing further to add.