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Hammond sees increasing government support for Brexit transition

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Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said he is seeing more and more support within the UK government for the idea of a multi-year transition period to allow businesses to adjust after Britain leaves the European Union.

[LONDON] Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said he is seeing more and more support within the UK government for the idea of a multi-year transition period to allow businesses to adjust after Britain leaves the European Union.

The Financial Times reported Friday that Mr Hammond had told businesses he supported a two-phase transition, with a "standstill" phase followed by an "implementation" phase.

It quoted allies as saying he believed both should be completed by 2022. He seemed to confirm that timing in a BBC interview.

"It's for pragmatic reasons that we increasingly think that a transition period will be the right way forward," Mr Hammond said.

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"Whether that time needs to be a year, two years, three years that will be determined by the facts, by questions like how long it will take us to put in place changes at our customs border to process goods coming into the UK."

When Prime Minister Theresa May set out her Brexit strategy in January, she talked about industry-specific transition arrangements.

Some advocates of Brexit had resisted a long transition period for fear that Britain's departure would be permanently delayed.

Mr Hammond's comments suggest he believes he's winning them round, though he insisted Britain would be leaving the EU in March 2019.

The chancellor said a transition arrangement would be in "Britain's interest and the EU's interest".

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