Hammond Battered By All Sides

As the Tories reel from this morning’s Electoral Commission report, the Chancellor is fighting to salvage his reputation. We are not at the stage where Philip Hammond is about to lose his job, but figures across the Tory party and government are wondering how he can recover from yesterday’s humiliation. He is getting it from all sides this morning:

  • The Telegraph says May told Hammond “I don’t care how bad it is for you”, they report he is now “on probation”
  • The Times says Theresa May’s aides “strong-armed” him into the u-turn and “punished him” for briefing against them last week, Number 10 told him the NI rise was a bad idea “but Philip wouldn’t listen”
  • The Spectator says Hammond’s credibility is “in tatters”, that he has “endangered wider credibility”, and accuses him of a “staggering lack of basic political competence”
  • The Sun says he has been forced to “grovel” to its readers
  • Peston says he wouldn’t bet on Hammond still being Chancellor beyond the summer
  • William Hill slashed the odds on him going before the election, first to 7/2, then to 5/2

Publicly Tory MPs are saying Hammond’s ability to admit he was wrong and change his mind shows he is the right man to be Chancellor. In reality it was not his choice – May made the decision – and it was not even her choice, Tory backbenchers have proved the government is so weak that just a handful of rebels can hold them to ransom. Backbenchers are emboldened, Downing Street is chastened. If May were to call an early election of course all these problems would go away…




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