Neighbours at war: Philip Hammond attacks Theresa May's election strategy

Pauline Gross
June 20, 2017

Philip Hammond has indicated the Government will ease austerity as he admitted the public is "weary of the long slog" it has endured since the financial crash. He suggested that he would be revisiting manifesto pledges for cuts to winter fuel allowances and ending the triple lock on pensions.

Speaking on Peston on Sunday Hammond gave his view on the Conservative's recent election campaign.

Hammond was also pressed about £3 billion planned cuts to local government budgets, whose lack of funds were partly blamed for failures in the Grenfell Tower fire last Wednesday.

Hammond has no direct part in Brexit talks which begin in Brussels on Monday but his new confidence means he is likely to press May and other ministers to prioritise the economy in the complicated negotiations for Britain's European Union departure.

"I think what they should do now is do what the rest of us want to do, which is try and support the Government because the big threat - you look into the abyss and it grins back at you with a short-cropped grey beard and very Marxist ideology".

Hammond also confirmed that despite the political uncertainty, there would not be a summer budget, adding that the Government would set out its taxation plans at the November budget.

"We are not deaf", he told the BBC. "We heard a message last week in the general election, and we need to look at how we deal with the challenges that we face in the economy", he said.

"And I understand that people are tired after years of hard work to rebuild the economy from the great crash of 2008-09".

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"More borrowing, which seems to be Jeremy Corbyn's answer, is not the solution".

He told the BBC Andrew Marr Show: "I think people are tired of the long slog".

Mr Hammond also said the United Kingdom would definitely be leaving both the EU single market and the customs union, but must avoid "cliff edges".

"The question is not whether we are leaving the customs union".

Prime Minister Theresa May said more help will be sent to the scene to help survivors cope and find alternative housing now that the 24-story Grenfell Tower has been destroyed.

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, a leading Brexit supporter, said she believed the two-year timetable could be met.

Asked when the right time for her to go would be, Ms Leadsom told BBC One's Sunday Politics: "That is absolutely a statement I would utterly reject".

Asked how long Mrs May had left in Number 10, Mr Hammond replied: "I think what the country needs now is a period of calm while we get on with the job at hand".

Other reports by GizPress

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