Theresa May seeks to quell cabinet in-fighting over Brexit

Kristopher Drake
July 17, 2017

"They shouldn't have done it frankly because Cabinet meetings are supposed to be a private space in which we have a serious discussion", he complained.

The Prime Minister will use Tuesday's regular Cabinet meeting to "remind" ministers that they should maintain silence about the content of meetings and focus on their job of delivering for the public, Mrs May's official spokesman told reporters.

The chancellor committed two known offences at cabinet last week: claiming that driving a train is so easy that "even a woman can do it" (The Sun); and suggesting that public sector workers were "over-paid" after pensions are taken into account (The Sunday Times).

Duncan Smith, who was on the Marr show reviewing the papers, claimed the leaks were coming from people who wished to see Theresa May ousted as Prime Minister.

In particular, Boris Johnson has joined a list of prominent ministers demanding a rethink over the public sector pay cap, which now limits annual salary increases for the likes of nurses and firefighters to one per cent.

And when he tried to dig himself out of the embarrassing hole, he was interrupted by Mrs May, who said: "Chancellor, I am going to take your shovel away from you".

"They want to frustrate Brexit", the minister told the Telegraph.

Appearing on BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hammond blamed cabinet leaks on colleagues opposed to his agenda for an extended transitional period after Britain formally left the European Union in 2019 so that business was not faced with a "cliff-edge" break.

But he acknowledged that ministers were divided on other elements of Brexit, after the weekend newspapers were filled with reports of in-fighting - including potentially damaging briefings against him over public sector pay.

"He should try and live on a public sector worker's wage for a week to understand the struggle to make ends meet so many are facing as the cost of living rises".

Chancellor Philip Hammond has blamed Cabinet enemies for leaking his remarks that public sector workers are "overpaid". He didn't disappoint, telling his colleagues to be a bit more "focused on the job at hand".

Some experts predicted that Britain would face an instant economic meltdown if the Brexit vote one.

The chancellor denied making the latter comment - he said he was making the point it was outrageous there were not more female train drivers - but did not deny making the comments about pay.

There is majority support for what is considered a "soft Brexit" arrangement, said Philip Hammond, that would extend the amount of time to come to new arrangements for working with the rest of Europe.

"I believe the great majority of my colleagues now recognise that is the right and sensible way to go, both in the United Kingdom and the European Union", he said.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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