The war of words at the top of the Conservative Party has been ramped up as Chancellor Phillip Hammond was accused of deliberately attempting to “fuck up” Brexit by top Tory colleagues.
The briefing given to The Daily Telegraph represents the third day running Cabinet members in support of Brexit appear to have briefed against Hammond, who has been making the case for a ‘soft’ exit from the EU.
It comes hours after Hammond warned his Tory colleagues against leaking stories about him to the media.
It was reported this weekend that Hammond described public sector workers as “overpaid” and that driving a train is so easy “even a woman can do it” in a Cabinet meeting.
Now the Telegraph reports it has been told by a senior Cabinet minister that Hammond is deliberately working to “frustrate” Brexit and treating pro-Leave ministers like “pirates who have taken him prisoner”. The minister says:
“What’s really going on is the Establishment, the Treasury, is trying to fuck it up. They want to frustrate Brexit.
“This is a crucial moment. That’s why we have to keep Theresa there. Otherwise the whole thing will fall apart.”
It’s the latest negative front page headline aimed at Hammond thanks to quotes from fellow Tories.
Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, the Chancellor blamed the anonymous briefings on those in the Cabinet unhappy with his Brexit stance, which includes potentially years of transitional arrangements between the UK and EU after March 2019.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is one of those pushing for such a period to last months rather than years, but on Sunday claimed he did not know who was behind the “deplorable” leaks.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith told Cabinet members engaged in such behavior to “just for once shut up for God’s sake” as there is “no mood” among backbench Tories for a leadership contest.
All the three men, and also First Secretary of State Damian Green, blamed the wrangling on too much “warm prosecco” and insisted Cabinet ministers needed a long holiday.
Speaking about the leaks, Hammond said: “If you want my opinion, some of the noise is generated by the people who are not happy with the agenda that I have over the last few weeks tried to advance of ensuring that we achieve a Brexit that is focused on protecting our economy, protecting our jobs and making sure that we can have continued rising living standards in the future.”
On Sunday night, The Sun reported Hammond’s allies blaming Environment Secretary Michael Gove for the attacks. A source said: “It’s Michael Gove behind all of this”.