Chancellor ‘to hold Budget early to stop Brexiteers bringing down PM’
PHILIP Hammond is battling with civil servants to hold the Autumn Budget as early as possible – because he fears that Brexiteers could use it as an opportunity to bring down the Government in protest at Theresa May’s Chequers plan.
Senior Government sources say that the Chancellor wants to hold the Budget in early October, to allow the resulting legislation to clear the Commons before a crunch Brussels summit on Brexit at the end of that month.
But officials are trying to force him into a late November slot – when debate will be raging in the party over the nature of the deal Mrs May has signed up to.
Chief Whip Julian Smith hopes to delay the crucial Commons vote on the deal until close to ‘Brexit Day’ in March, in the hope that Leave Tory MPs will cave in and support the Government rather than risk a ‘no deal’ exit.
If MPs did decide to vote down the Budget in protest, it could give Ministers time to scramble a new deal together.
A source said last night: ‘Philip wants to get it done as soon as possible. November is going to be bloody, and the last thing he wants is to become a proxy for the Chequers rows.’
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry confirmed that Labour was likely to team up with Brexiteer Conservative MPs to vote against any deal Mrs May secures, ensuring a knife-edge Commons division. Historically, a defeat on a Finance Bill has been treated as an effective vote of no confidence because it prevents the Government from conducting its business.
It was claimed yesterday that Mr Hammond had angered the Prime Minister by arguing that Britain might have to delay Brexit beyond its March 29, 2019 deadline in order to give the country time to prepare for ‘no deal’.
May is understood to have told her Chancellor that it was ‘ not going to happen’, because it would cause uproar among Brexiteers fearing that it is a ploy.
The Treasury says that Mr Hammond was only talking about a brief ‘administrative pause’.
FACING A BATTLE: