Philip Hammond hits back at 'bizarre' criticism from pro-Brexit Tories
Chancellor Philip Hammond has hit back at “bizarre” claims from critics in his own party that he is trying to talk down the British economy.
He said he wanted to “protect and prepare” the UK for the challenges posed by Brexit, as he appeared in Washington today.
It comes after No 10 was forced to insist Theresa May had “full confidence” in her Chancellor, following speculation he could be dumped in a looming Cabinet reshuffle.
Conservative critics of Mr Hammond, who are enthusiastic about the UK leaving the EU, have lashed out at his grim forecasts and calls for caution.
Some, such as former chancellor Nigel Lawson, have accused him of trying to “sabotage” the Brexit process and called for him to be sacked.
But Mr Hammond shot back today: "It is absurd to pretend that the process we are engaged in hasn't created some uncertainty. But the underlying economy remains robust.”
Speaking on the fringes of an International Monetary Fund meeting, he added: "I am committed to delivering a Brexit deal that works for Britain.”
Asked by the BBC if he was still a Remain campaigner, Mr Hammond said: "We had that debate last year and we resolved it."
Earlier this week he told the Treasury Select Committee that the “cloud of uncertainty” around Brexit was “acting as a dampener” on the economy.
And he rejected calls from pro-Brexit Tory MPs to allocate cash to emergency measures in preparation for the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.
A furious Lord Lawson had said: “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”.
And 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.”