Boris Johnson is backed by “radicals” who do not want to broker a Brexit deal with the EU, Philip Hammond has said, arguing he no longer recognises the Conservative Party.
The former chancellor – who was one of 21 Tory rebels to be kicked out of the party for backing legislation to block a no-deal Brexit – said there was “no evidence at all” the PM and his team had seriously pursued a Brexit deal.
Johnson “is backed by speculators who have bet billions on a hard Brexit — and there is only one outcome that works for them: a crash-out no-deal Brexit that sends the currency tumbling and inflation soaring,” Hammond wrote in the Times on Saturday.
“The radicals advising Boris do not want a deal...” he added. “But I detect no appetite among our electorate for such a project. That is manifestly not the will of the people.”
Instead, the prime minister must “moderate his language and demeanour” in order to get a Brexit deal, Hammond wrote, saying “compromise requires reaching out, not slapping down”.
Hammond – who said he would not be attending the party’s annual conference this week for the first time in 35 years – described the current state of the Conservative Party as “unrecognisable”.
Gone is the “broad-church coalition” united by fiscal discipline but tolerant “of a wide range of social and political opinion”.
“In its place is an ideological puritanism that brooks no dissent and is more and more strident in its tone,” the former cabinet minister wrote.
The Tories must deliver and orderly Brexit and “reconfirm its mission as a broad-based, centre-right party”, he added.
Hammond’s comments come at the end of a turbulent week for the Conservatives, with the Supreme Court ruling that the government’s decision to prorogue parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
Meanwhile, the PM has been embroiled in a row about his choice of words in the Commons after he dismissed calls from a Labour MP to tone down his language as “humbug”.
On Friday, former cabinet minister Amber Rudd – who quit the Conservative parliamentary party earlier this month – also accused Downing Street of using language that could “incite violence”.