Tories at war as Brexiteers demand May sacks Hammond

  • Conservative MPs call for Chancellor Philip Hammond to be sacked over Brexit.
  • The Tories remain split between with Hammond’s supporters and allies of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
  • Prime Minister Theresa May hints that she wants  to demote Johnson, but one minister says “he’d just say no.”
  • One minister says that Hammond is “miserable” and “making Brexit hard.”

LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure from leading Brexiteers to sack Chancellor Philip Hammond, as Conservative party infighting over Brexit continues.

Tory MP Nadine Dorries told ITV’s Peston on Sunday that he has “deliberately” been trying to make Brexit talks difficult and that he should be sacked by Prime Minister May.

She said: “I think Philip Hammond has been deliberately trying to make the Brexit negotiations difficult, stall them, obfuscate the issues. I just don’t think he’s been 100% on board.”

Fellow Conservative backbencher Bernard Jenkin, one of the directors of the Vote Leave campaign, criticised the Treasury for being pessimistic and pursuing “Brexit in name only” but stopped short of calling for Hammond to go in a Guardian column published on Monday morning.

Jenkin said the EU has “co-opted the CBI, parts of the City and, it seems, the Treasury to assist” in making Brexit damaging, and that “they are legitimising EU threats of economic disruption.”

The moves against Hammond have followed reports that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will be one of the victims of the cabinet reshuffle after his unauthorised articles on Brexit for The Telegraph and Sun newspapers.

Conservative MPs Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston called for Johnson to be sacked after he told a Conservative conference fringe event that war-torn Libya could have a bright future once they “clear the dead bodies away.”

A cabinet minister told the Telegraph that Hammond “has completely failed,” is “miserable” and “is making Brexit hard.”

However, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson told ITV’s Peston on Sunday that the prime minister should “absolutely not” remove the chancellor from his position.

A Treasury source told the Guardian: “Britain will leave the European Union, the customs union, and the single market in March 2019. The Treasury is working hard to make sure that can happen.”

The prime minister has successfully survived an attempt from within the Tories to remove her after former Conservative chairman Grant Shapps failed in his attempt to trigger a leadership election.

May indicated in an interview with the Sunday Times that she might consider a cabinet reshuffle, saying: “Part of my job is to make sure I always have the best people in my cabinet, to make the most of the wealth of talent available in the party.”

It is thought that May wants to demote Johnson, but is considering whether it is worth the risk of further Tory splits if the foreign secretary was sacked.

One minister told the Telegraph: “He’d just say no — what is she going to do about it?”

“There’s a stench of death emanating from Downing Street. If you were a Brexiteer you would be worried [if Johnson was sacked]. You’d look around the Cabinet table and see Remainers occupying the key positions,” they added.

Watch former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine say May should reshuffle Johnson to Mongolia

Johnson might still be moved to a less high-profile post within the cabinet such as party chairman as punishment for his gaffes and Brexit interventions that undermined May.

Several cabinet ministers have indicated that they would support the prime minister if she moved against the foreign secretary. Last week Philip Hammond said “everyone is sackable.”

Here’s Michael Heseltine saying Theresa May should reshuffle Boris Johnson to Mongolia
— Adam Payne (@adampayne26) October 8, 2017

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