PUBLISHED: 09:18, Wed, Aug 14, 2019 | UPDATED: 09:20, Wed, Aug 14, 2019
A no deal Brexit scenario is more likely to pan out in October due to the switch towards a harder position Boris Johnson turned to under the advice of his top aides, according to former Chancellor Philip Hammond. Mr Hammond suggested Number 10 advisers have told the Prime Minister to demand the European Union agree to remove the Irish backstop despite knowing Brussels would never budge, inching Britain closer to a no deal. Speaking to the BBC's Today programme, the former frontbencher said: "It’s very tempting from London to see the EU as a monolithic bloc threatening the UK. The truth is slightly different.
"Their coalition of 27 is itself a very fragile coalition and they have agreed on a stance. If they were to reopen the terms of the withdrawal agreement that coalition would undoubtedly fragment.
"They are not going to take that risk, they simply are not. And the people, the smart people in Whitehall, understand that extremely well and they know that by setting the bar at the level of removing the backstop altogether, they are effectively ending any possibility of a discussion with the European Union."
Mr Hammond argued the Prime Minister pledged to deliver on a deal and that Mr Johnson had expressed "confidence" he would get one to support his claims.
He continued: "We were talking until a few weeks ago about the need to change the terms of the backstop and, although that would have been a difficult discussion, it was a tough negotiating position.
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Brexit news: Hammond appeared to be taking a thinly-veiled dig at Cummings (Image: GETTY•BBC)
Brexit news: Hammond said demands to remove the backstop effectively ended talks with the EU (Image: BBC)
I fear there are people around him whose agenda is different
"Pivoting to the backstop has to go in its entirety, a huge trunk of the withdrawal agreement, just scrapped, is effectively a wrecking tactic. The people behind this know that means there will be no deal."
Asked to explain who he meant by "the people behind" the Prime Minister, Mr Hammond added: "Those who are pulling the strings in Downing