Chancellor Philip Hammond is said to believe that for the moment he is unsackable

Chancellor Philip Hammond is said to believe that for the moment he is unsackable

Meet the man now being described as the “real leader of the opposition” –

There’s an insightful article on the challenges ahead facing the Tories by the Telegraph’s James Kirkup.

Surveying the range of hurdles ahead Kirkup makes an interesting observation about Philip Hammond who replaced George Osborne as Chancellor.

Mr Hammond is, to almost everyone’s surprise, the most interesting man in the Cabinet. Colleagues say that he calculates that he is, for now anyway, unsackable, and so he has the latitude to challenge Mrs May in a way others do not.

More sympathetic to business and the argument for the single market than the PM, Mr Hammond could well emerge as Britain’s real opposition leader when Britain’s Brexit debate is played out inside the Conservative Party…”

As a general rule chancellors are pretty difficult for PMs to get rid of and when they do it is a massive political event. Hammond has also been reinforced by the manner in which his predecessor, Osborne, was sacked when TMay took over. The perception was that the niceties weren’t observed. Certainly for the PM to clashing with her choice as Osbo’s replacement to the extent that he had to go would be extremely difficult and potentially damaging.

So I think that Hammond is in a strong position but he’s smart enough to to use it effectively.

With the EU extraction strategy down in simple terms to single market versus freedom of movement Hammond is a powerful advocate of the former. Judging by her speech yesterday TMay appears to be saying that the latter is paramount.

This will be an interesting battle in the next few months.

Mike Smithson

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