Philip Hammond faces fresh backlash from Conservative right-wingers
Philip Hammond has been hit with more criticism by senior right-wing Tories over his approach to Brexit amid claims relations between the Chancellor and Prime Minister have hit a new low.
The Chancellor sparked divisions within his party’s ranks earlier this week when he said he was not yet willing to commit funds in preparation for leaving the European Union without a formal withdrawal agreement.
A number of his Conservative colleagues have followed yesterday's attack by grandee and former chancellor Nigel Lawson, who called on Mr Hammond to be sacked for trying to "sabotage" the Government's attempts to prepare for Brexit.
Mr Lawson suggested Theresa May should have a Cabinet reshuffle and when asked by the BBC whether Mr Hammond should keep his job, he said: "I fear not. I fear that he is unhelpful. He may not intend it but in practice what he is doing is very close to sabotage."
Nadine Dorries, a Conservative backbencher, added to the calls for Mr Hammond to go, saying: “We need a ‘can do’ man in the Treasury, not a prophet of doom.”
Former Cabinet minister John Redwood also called on the Chancellor to change his tone, tweeting that he must “get the Treasury to have more realistic, optimistic forecasts and to find the money for a successful economy post Brexit”.
Peter Bone, a prominent Leave campaigner, told The Times: “Someone needs to get hold of the Treasury and make them do what the PM wants.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg said. “It is a great institution going through a time of weakness and it’s up to the chancellor as head of the organisation to inspire it.
“Being an inspiration is always a challenge. I’m sure he can rise to it — he needs to want to rise to it. The Budget will be very interesting time . . . to show what mettle he has.”
Another right-winger, Andrew Bridgen, told The Times: “If he didn’t get on board with Brexit then the PM would have no choice but to remove him. Given the Treasury’s record it’s essential that we have a openly Brexit-supporting chancellor.”
The Chancellor also faced a rebuke on his position from senior Cabinet colleagues, including Boris Johnson and Liam Fox – both of whom endorsed a Leave vote last year.
The Foreign Secretary said: “We are working for a great deal, but obviously we must make the right preparations as and when it is necessary for a no-deal scenario.
“Of course that’s the responsible thing to do and that’s what we are going to do.”
The International Trade Secretary, Mr Fox said: “The Chancellor says that we need to spend money only as necessary. I think that’s correct.
“But we also need to ensure that we spend money on all areas where contingency plans are necessary.”
Mr Hammond’s intervention regarding a no deal outcome on Wednesday was also slapped down by Theresa May, who said £250m was being made available to help Whitehall departments prepare for all eventualities.
Her pledge to MPs shortly after the Chancellor’s comments to the treasury is followed by a report in The Sun today, claiming Mr Hammond and Mrs May “can’t bear” to be alone together.
A Cabinet source told the paper: “They don’t talk as much as they should, and they are too buttoned up with each other when they do.”
They added: “That’s what happens when you get two unemotional introverts at the top of the tree. It’s getting quite dysfunctional again”.