Philip Hammond, who is supporting Home Secretary Theresa May’s bid to become the next prime minister, told the BBC on Monday that the public’s attitude about ending the free movement of EU nationals was reflected in the referendum result.
As Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne promised to cut the country’s Corporation Tax rate to 15 per cent in a bid to attract foreign investment, Mr Hammond said Britain should negotiate bilateral immigration policies with “key countries”, rather than the EU as a whole.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “I hope we will be able to get to a position where we are able to say to those EU nationals who live in the UK, and to those Brits who live in EU countries, everything’s fine, you can stay as you were. But you can’t assume that: we’ve got to negotiate that with our former European Union partners.
“When you go into a negotiation all the parts are moving, all the parts are on the table, and it would be absurd to make a unilateral commitment about EU nationals living in the UK without at the very least getting a similar commitment from the European Union about British nationals living in the EU.”
Meanwhile, Mr Osborne told the Financial Times that he is planning to cut corporation tax to 15 per cent or lower to show that Britain is “still open for business” and to create a “super-competitive economy” following the Brexit vote.
He has already pledged to cut the current 20 per cent rate to 17 per cent by 2020, but gave no commitment on when the 15 per cent rate – the lowest among major economies and only slightly higher than Ireland’s 12.5 per cent rate – would be reached.