British Finance Minister Philip Hammond on Friday sought to quell accusations from within his Conservative Party that he is taking too soft an approach to Brexit.
The finance minister Hammond noted the European Union represented “the enemy’’ in the negotiations.
Hammond, who has come under increasingly hostile fire from supporters of a tough approach to splitting Britain from the EU, told newsmen that it was time for the Conservatives to end their in-fighting over the Brexit talks.
“I understand that passions are high; I understand that people have very strong views about this.
“However, we are all going to the same place, we all have the same agenda.
“The enemy, the opponents, are out there on the other side of the table.
“Those are the people that we have to negotiate with. We have to negotiate hard to get the very best deal for Britain,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington.
Hammond infuriated pro-Brexit newspapers this week and was criticised by some Conservatives including former finance minister Nigel Lawson for not agreeing to spend money now on preparations for the possibility of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.
Speaking to media in Washington on Friday, Hammond declined to say whether he would vote for Brexit if there were a second referendum.
Meanwhile, Hammond campaigned for Britain to remain part of the EU ahead of the June 2016 vote.
Echoing Prime Minister Theresa May’s own reticence on the issue, Hammond declined to say how he would vote if another referendum were held now.
“We’ve had the referendum, you know how I voted in it,” he told the BBC.
Earlier this week May declined to answer a similar question, stoking concerns among Brexit supporters that she is not fully committed to taking Britain out of the EU.
On Thursday, May’s spokeswoman said the prime minister had full confidence in Hammond.