Chan­cel­lor ‘to hold Bud­get early to stop Brex­i­teers bring­ing down PM’

The Mail on Sunday - - News - By Glen Owen

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’.

Mr Ham­mond


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