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By Bishop of Leeds
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Philip Hammond turns on Tory campaign team over disastrous election performance

John Ashmore

3 min read

Philip Hammond has laid into his own party's ill-fated election campaign, arguing that there should have been much more focus on the economy.

The Chancellor was largely absent from a Tory campaign, with speculation that he was in line for the sack if Theresa May had increased her majority. 

In contrast to the 2015 campaign, where David Cameron talked repeatedly about economic stewardship, Mrs May's appearances tended to focus on Brexit and the question of her own leadership qualities compared with Jeremy Corbyn's.

This morning Mr Hammond refused to say whether he had been expecting to lose his job, but expressed frustration at being sidelined by his party's campaign chiefs.

"It's true that my role in the election campaign was not the one I would have liked it to be," he told the Andrew Marr Show. 

"I did a lot of travelling around the country, I met lots of very interesting people, I heard lots of interesting stories. I would have liked to have made much more of our economic record, which I think is an excellent one - creating 2.9 million jobs, getting the deficit down by three quarters."

Asked whether he had discussed moving jobs, he replied: "I'm not going to speculate about what happened inside the campaign leadership team.

"The end result is that in my judgment we didn't talk about the economy as much as we should have done. We didn't put enough energy into dismantling Jeremy Corbyn's economic proposals and his spending plans, which would be catastrophic for this country.

"We will now do that, we will now address those plans that Corbyn set out in his manifesto and take them apart, as I would have liked to have done during the campaign.

"I think focusing on our strengths is always the right way to campaign. Economic competence has always been one of the great Conservative strengths and in this case we have an excellent economic record.

"I would have liked to have highlighted our economic record and I think if we had focused on that we probably would have done better in the election than we did."

He would not be drawn on how long Mrs May might have left in the top job, although reports this morning suggests some Tory MPs are contemplating an attempt to remove her as soon as the end of this month.

"What the country needs now is a period of calm while we get on with the job in hand," Mr Hammond said.

"We've got some very serious issues to address, including the Brexit negotiations just starting. Theresa is leading the Government and I think the Government needs to get on with this job.

"I think that's actually what most people in this country will think - that the Government just needs to get on with the day job of government."

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