Cabinet unrest as top Tory warns of Hammond’s ‘car-crash’ Budget
NEXT week’s Budget risks becoming a ‘car crash’, a senior Tory warned last night – amid growing Cabinet frustration with Chancellor Philip Hammond.
The Budget has been billed as a ‘make or break’ moment, which could either mark the start of a Government fightback or deepen the crisis surrounding Theresa May’s administration.
But senior ministers fear the Chancellor has failed to grasp the critical nature of the event and is refusing to release cash for initiatives designed to get the Government on the front foot. Relations between Mrs May and her Chancellor are also said to be fraught, with insiders claiming he is refusing her request to bankroll a housebuilding revolution.
And there is alarm that the Treasury has briefed the media that the Budget is going to be both ‘big and bold’ and ‘steady as she goes’ – suggesting confusion.
A Cabinet source said: ‘It’s looking more and more like the Budget is going to be a car crash – a real disaster. There is so much riding on it but the Chancellor seems oblivious. He has no idea about politics – people try to explain how the choices he makes have a political impact but he doesn’t listen.
‘This is not about Brexit – unhappiness with Philip Hammond is one thing that unites the Cabinet, whether they are Brexiteers or Remainers.’
Government sources say Mr Hammond is ‘digging his heels in’ over the need to maintain the austerity programme that has been in place since 010. But he is under pressure from ministers to release billions for a string of initiatives, including Brexit preparations and defence spending.
Next Wednesday’s Budget is the first since the Government moved to a policy of one a year. The spring Budget this year was the last and there will no longer be an Autumn Statement.