Theresa May 'in desperate move against Philip Hammond to fix worst Budget build-up in history'
Theresa May and Philip Hammond were reportedly at war last night over what was dubbed “the worst Budget build-up in history”.
Mr Hammond will use his set-piece announcement today to fight for his political life amid reports Mrs May is poised to sack him.
The Chancellor is already under pressure after he was forced into a swift U-turn on National Insurance Contributions in the wake of his last big financial outing. He is also under pressure from Tory MPs over his stance on Brexit.
He began the week with a bad gaffe on Sunday when he told the BBC there were “no unemployed people”.
Yesterday a Treasury announcement trailing the Budget was released in the afternoon but Tory MPs branded it “uninspiring”, according to the Telegraph.
The department insisted there would be no further announcements but after two hours a press release came through about school funding - sparking accusations of a desperate move by No 10.
One source told the paper: “The Treasury is just not very good at getting its message across and the past week has been no exception. They never seem to have any idea of what to announce, and when.”
A minister said: “They've cleared the decks for him, he can have no excuses. It is his Budget, he will stand or fall by it. There will be a regeneration reshuffle, and nobody sees him featuring in it.”
And a former minister added: “He is not a bloke who has a huge number of allies. He will have to have a fairly spectacular Budget to save himself. If he flops again he is done.”
But according to the Sun, the Prime Minister is reluctant to sack her Chancellor for fears he might exact revenge from the backbenches.
An ally told the paper: “There’s no doubt Hammond would do ‘a Geoffrey Howe’ on her from the backbenches. He wouldn’t hold back, and that would be fatal with the state the party is in.”
Meanwhile, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell fumed: “Our view is Hammond and the Government are not living in the real world; they’re completely out of touch about what’s happening in the country and how people are experiencing public services, their pay, and their standards of living being eroded.”