U.K.’s economy faces “turbulence” as it negotiates its EU exit, Hammond warned.
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British Finance Minister Philip Hammond vowed Monday to protect the economy from any turbulence during negotiations to leave the EU, as sterling fell on worries the country is heading toward a disruptive divorce with its biggest trading partner.Britain must start the formal negotiation process by invoking Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, giving the sides two years to clinch a deal.Hammond's address was watched by May, whose speech to the conference Sunday convinced some investors that Britain could be heading toward a "hard Brexit". Hammond, who campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU before the referendum, said the government would ensure the best possible access to EU markets.Hammond tried to counter that view.Hammond repeated his decision to push back the government's target for turning the budget deficit – which at 4 percent of gross domestic product in the 2015-16 financial year is proportionately among the biggest among the rich economies – into a surplus. His predecessor George Osborne had targeted 2020 but Hammond has yet to set a new target date.Hammond's spokeswoman declined to comment on the pound's fall or talk of exiting the EU single market but said he has been keen to underscore how he was listening to the concerns of British businesses.
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