Theresa May reprimands Cabinet leakers for 'not taking responsibilities seriously'
3 min read
Theresa May today called for “strength and unity” among her top ministers as she condemned Cabinet leaks against Philip Hammond.
The Prime Minister said colleagues behind a string of negative briefings against the Chancellor over the weekend were “not taking their responsibilities seriously”.
Mrs May had promised to act after Mr Hammond blamed ministers unhappy with his stance on how the UK should leave the European Union.
She told the Cabinet this morning: “There is a need to show strength and unity as a country and that starts at the Cabinet table.”
The Prime Minister’s spokesman added: “The Prime Minister said as Prime Minister she has introduced a more genuine and collective discussion into the way policy is developed and agreed.
“She said the Government would make better decisions if colleagues were able to hold open discussions, but it was vital that discussions in Cabinet must remain private.
“The Prime Minister said the briefings and counter-briefings over the weekend had been a case of colleagues not taking their responsibilities seriously.”
Unnamed Cabinet colleagues were behind two damaging newspaper stories about Mr Hammond on Saturday and Sunday, both emanating from his comments at last week’s meeting of the Government’s top team.
He had reportedly said public sector workers were “overpaid” compared to their private sector counterparts and commented that driving a train was now so easy that “even a woman” could do it – though he has strongly denied making the latter remark.
‘I DON’T FEEL ENFEEBLED’
The Chancellor also hit back at his Cabinet colleagues in the House of Commons today.
“I take a very clear view about the confidentiality of conversations between Cabinet ministers,” he said in response to a question about discussions between ministers.
Mr Hammond also warned his critics that he was “not enfeebled”.
“I don’t know which planet he lives on but I have to tell you I don’t feel particularly enfeebled,” he replied to Shadow Chief Secretary Peter Dowd.
Mr Hammond has been publicly at odds with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox over how long transitional arrangements should apply beyond Brexit.
He stated again at Treasury Questions that his priority would be to maintain trade links with the European Union, rather than immediately opening up the UK to negotiating bilateral agreements with other nations.
“It’s clear to me that all other things being equal being able to enter into bilateral trade deals with third countries will be a positive for our economy.
“But of course we want also to protect our trade with the European Union and my focus is on ensuring we get a Brexit deal which protects our existing patterns of trade and commercial engagement with the European Union, as well as – over time – allowing us to explore new opportunities beyond the European Union.”
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