UK PM's office says free movement from European Union will end in 2019

Liam Fox right is at odds with the chancellor Philip Hammond left over free movement during the Brexit transition

In the past few days, May's ministers gave conflicting views about what Brexit would look like, with finance minister Philip Hammond suggesting last week that there would be no immediate change to the immigration rules in the United Kingdom after Brexit.

But that vision of harmony was shattered nearly immediately. But Fox told The Sunday Times newspaper: "If there have been discussions on that I have not been party to them".

But Trade Minister Liam Fox said allowing free movement after Brexit would not "keep faith" with the referendum result and that the government had not reached a consensus on keeping open European Union immigration for a transitional period. In a statement that proved controversial, and whilst Theresa May was in Italy, Hammond announced he favoured a "standstill" Brexit transition, with "many arrangements remaining very similar to how they were the day before we exited", suggesting the free movement of labour could continue for up to three years after Brexit.

"In this case, we could be forced to change our economic model and we will have to change our model to regain competitiveness".

The PM intervened yesterday after conflicting messages from ministers on what a transitional Brexit deal would look like threatened to descend into a civil war within the Cabinet.

But in a thinly-veiled swipe at Mr Hammond, he criticised "almost daily freelancing about the contents of such an agreement", adding: 'The current principles of free movement have to end.

But it was presented by Mr Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd last week as a way of avoiding a "cliff-edge" fall in European Union immigration.

But on Wednesday, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd was quoted by the Financial Times daily as saying: "We must keep attracting the brightest and best migrants from around the world". "That would not be good for Britain, but nor do I believe it would be good for the EU".

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However, the comments triggered a row with Hammond's Cabinet colleagues. "This consensus is fragile".

"It can't just be made by an individual or any group within the Cabinet".

Hammond this week will visit Brazil as he seeks to build closer ties with a major developing economy ahead of Brexit. He said Hammond's alarmism reminded him of the year 2000 when a feared "Millennium bug" was meant to make computer systems crash.

Downing Street responded: "While Brexit presents opportunities to build a more global Britain, we've always been clear we're leaving the European Union but not leaving Europe".

There was also concern about his suggestion that a transition deal could last three years - ending barely two months before the scheduled date of the next election.

Jones and Lyons both accuse Hammond of taking advantage of May's absence to publicize his own views.

May has been on holiday since last week, interrupting her break to attend a memorial service in Belgium on Monday.

"This will update the government's policy, including on the transitional period". "Until then, however, uncertainty will likely remain on what the transitional deal might involve".

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