DUP call for ‘Theresa May to force Hammond to change course on Brexit or fire him’
Theresa May must tell Philip Hammond to change course on Brexit or sack him, the DUP has said.
The party propping up Mrs May’s minority government is apparently “deeply concerned” about the Chancellor following a string of gaffes in recent days.
The calls are echoed within Mrs May’s Cabinet, two senior Remain-backing figures joined with Brexiteers arguing Mr Hammond must go during the next reshuffle.
Mr Hammond was forced to backtrack on Friday after he branded Brussels “the enemy” in Brexit negotiations.
He had made the incendiary comment less than an hour before, as he urged his Conservative colleagues to end their bitter rows over Brexit.
One senior minister told the Sunday Times: “Philip is an inept political operator in quite a crowded field.”
The second minister told the paper Mr Hammond should be replaced with a Brexit-backing MP, such as Michael Gove.
“We need a chancellor who is inventive and proactive,” the minister added.
A Conservative grandee told the Daily Telegraph that Mr Hammond was a “s***” who deserves to be “kicked down Whitehall”.
A DUP source told the same paper: "We are very concerned about Philip Hammond's behaviour. It is evident to us that he is winding people up and causing unnecessary division within the Conservative Party at a crucial time in the Brexit negotiations, and his behaviour is very unsettling.
"One has to wonder what his motivation is. He appears to be at least highly sceptical about Brexit and one could conclude from his current position and his behaviour that he is trying to frustrate the negotiating process and to undermine the Prime Minister.
"The DUP will continue to keep a close watch on the situation but we think that Mrs May needs to do something to reign her Chancellor in and to make it clear to him that this kind of behaviour has to stop.
"It is not for us to dictate to the Prime Minister how she should manage her cabinet but as informed observers with a vested interest in making Brexit work we are deeply concerned. If this behaviour continues the Chancellor's position becomes untenable."
"We simply cannot allow personal agendas to get in the way of the needs of our nation."
A former minister added: “"It will obviously be easier if someone was doing the job who wasn't constantly trying to dilute and water down the Government's bargaining position."
Gavin Barwell is reported to be happy to move both Boris Johnson and Mr Hammond but Mrs May to wait until after the Budget to see how the latter performs.
Elsewhere Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has threatened to veto a trade deal with Australia and New Zealand: “I will never support anything that would result in Wales being worse off. I could not agree to free-trade deals with Australia and New Zealand that would decimate our agricultural industry — our lamb farmers would vanish overnight.
"Similarly, a free-trade deal with China could be disastrous for our steel industry. We have fought tooth and nail to forge a sustainable future for Welsh steel, and flooding the market with cheap Chinese steel would do untold harm to the industry.”