Philip Hammond faces backbench revolt over Budget
Cabinet rivals are reportedly lining up to replace Philip Hammond amid rumours of a backbench rebellion over controversial Budget plans.
According to the Times, the Chancellor is under fresh pressure over mooted proposals for next month’s Budget, causing Tory backbenchers to threaten a revolt.
The newspaper reports that MPs were concerned over plans to tackle intergenerational inequality, fearing they would be seen as taking cash from pensioners.
Number 10 were also said to be frustrated with the Chancellor over a recent article in which he revealed that preparatory spending on a ‘no deal’ Brexit would only be triggered at ‘the last possible moment’.
This follows other inflammatory remarks over recent weeks, including describing EU negotiators as “enemies", for which he later apologised.
Sources close to the Prime Minister were also angered by pre-Budget briefings to the media promising “bold” and “radical” policies.
One said: “What were they thinking? When do you ever play up the significance of a budget like that, particularly in the current situation with public finances?”
A senior backbencher added: “Now there is a difference between No 10 and No 11 that needs to be dealt with: either he gets in line or it’s resolved by the departure of one or the other of them. If he goes back to the ideas of the manifesto, of robbing pensions, then he’s in trouble.”
Even an ally of Mr Hammond admitted that the Budget would be tricky given current fiscal constraints.
“There is very little room for manoeuvre but it is the only chance to make big changes for the next year. But raising money will be hard to get through the Commons while he remains a fiscal hawk when it comes to spending,” they said.
With pressure mounting on the Chancellor, he reportedly faced challenges from colleagues at a recent Budget discussion, with rivals seemingly pitching to replace him.
One Cabinet member said: “This discussion wasn’t about members of the Cabinet dividing into doves and hawks, it was about everyone sympathising with the chancellor’s difficult predicament and trying to come up with their own ideas.”
Mr Hammond will deliver his Autumn Budget on 22 November.