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Chancellor Hammond may not be PM (yet) but he’s the one currently running the show & shaping Brexit

July 31st, 2017

He alone appears competent and in control

Today’s Times front page is the latest reminder of the rise and rise of Chancellor Philip Hammond in the government suggesting that he’s positioning himself as the next party leader and PM.

A good indication of Hammond’s new status is that the both the Mail and the Sun, tabloids that until 10pm on June 8th 2017 were widely regarded as politically influential, are making strong attacks. Trevor Kavanagh in the Sun calls him a remainiac while the Mail’s Peter Oborne asks “A future PM? Who does Philip Hammond think he’s kidding?

The thing, of course, is that TMay, now shorn of her fiercely anti-Hammond advisers of Hill and Timothy, has put the Chancellor in charge during her holidays and he has seized the opportunity. John Rentoul in the Indy writes:

“It would be unwise to rule out the possibility of him as leader, but the main significance of the story is that it draws attention to the thinness of the field for a Conservative leadership election that everyone thinks will be held in the next few years.

That is the context for Hammond’s assertiveness this week. I am not saying it is a leadership bid, but I think the Chancellor takes the view that good policy is the best way to promote oneself. A transition deal was always the best way to approach Brexit, but Theresa May would have held back from spelling it out, partly as a negotiating tactic but mostly out of a political hoarding instinct.

What is most remarkable about Hammond’s confidence is that he faced the sack two months ago and even a fortnight ago he was written off as tin-eared and useless at politics for his comments in Cabinet about “overpaid” public-sector workers..”

In the next CON leader betting Hammonod is in fourth place behind Johnson, Ress-Mogg and Davis.

Mike Smithson