Theresa May today refused to confirm if Philip Hammond will stay on as Chancellor after the election, as rumours of tensions between the pair grows.
On Wednesday morning Hammond did not deny reports that he was sometimes reduced to swearing in conversations with the Prime Minister’s team.
At a press conference in Canary Wharf in London hours later, the Prime Minister – standing alongside the Chancellor – did not answer the question of whether would stay as “next-door neighbours” should the Tories win the election.
When asked to give an “endorsement” of Hammond as Chancellor, May replied: Very happy to do so, as Philip says we have worked together over the years, for many years, longer than we would care to identify.
“That’s an age related comment, nothing else,” May added, to laughter.
Rows between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are believed to go back to the Spring Budget, when Hammond tried to breach a 2015 election pledge and increase National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed.
The Chancellor rowed back on the announcement within a week after pressure from Tory backbenchers.
Within days of the General Election being called, Hammond suggested the so-called lock on VAT, income tax and National Insurance rates could be scrapped.
When asked about relations between himself and the Prime Minister’s team at Canary Wharf this morning, Hammond said: “I wasn’t referring to any particular conversation but I do occasionally swear.”
He added: “We work very closely together, the Prime Minister and I have known each other for many, many years and we work very closely together.
“She’s got an extremely strong team around her. I work very closely with her team, some of them are people that I’ve known for many, many years.
“We do work very well together as a team. All this media tittle-tattle is just that: media tittle-tattle.”
Hammond is seen as an important ally of the City of London as the UK strives for a Brexit deal.
The Chancellor, who backed Remain in the EU Referendum, has been noticeably more cautious in his language and tone when it comes to Brexit than the Prime Minister.