Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip ‘Remainer Phil’ Hammond will tender his resignation to Theresa May before she herself resigns the prime ministership if Boris Johnson becomes Tory leader.
The Remain-voting finance chief has long been viewed as a bulwark of the anti-Brexit resistance operating at the highest levels of the British government, pushing for a so-called soft Brexit in which Britain would retain most of its current obligations to the European Union and its policies.
Brexiteer insiders have also accused him of trying to make it very difficult for Britain to follow any other strategy — in particular a clean break with the EU without a formal withdrawal agreement — by using his position at the Treasury to restrict the funds available for the country to prepare itself for an exit on no-deal terms.
In recent weeks, the Chancellor appears to have gone back into full campaigning mode, producing doom-laden forecasts stretching years into the future warning No Deal Brexit would devastate the economy, much as predecessor George Osborne had mandarins produce forecasts — later proven to be incorrect — predicting that a Leave vote would trigger a recession and mass lay-offs during the 2016 EU referendum.
Before he’s sacked you mean. https://t.co/7z2eUi4EVP
— Darren Grimes (@darrengrimes_) July 21, 2019
Given this stance, it was widely predicted that if, as expected, former Vote Leave frontman Boris Johnson wins the Tory leadership contest and succeeds Theresa May as Prime Minister, the Chancellor would be sacked in short order — but he has elected to jump before he is pushed, sensationally announcing “I’m sure I’m not going to be sacked because I’m going to resign before we get to that point” on the BBC’s Sunday morning Andrew Marr Show.
“Assuming that Boris Johnson becomes the next prime minister, I understand that his conditions for serving in his government would include accepting a no-deal exit on the 31st of October,” he said.
“That is not something that I could ever sign up to.”
Many prominent Leave campaigners bristled at this, considering Hammond was re-elected on a manifesto pledge to ensure Brexit was delivered come what may, as “no deal is better than a bad deal”, in 2017.
“Shocking, hypocritical betrayal of democracy,” said Richard Tice MEP, chairman of the Nigel Farage’s surging Brexit Party and co-founder of the Leave Means Leave and Leave.EU campaigns.
“Hammond says [we] cannot get new deal by end [October] & admits [he] will conspire to prevent a [No Deal] Brexit. The same man who voted twice in last 2 years to leave on 29 March, with or without a deal,” he recalled.
“That’s why the Tories cannot be trusted.”
Tory Brexiteer on Live Radio to Remain Chancellor Hammond: ‘Up Yours!’ https://t.co/4NyF9tQSTr
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 2, 2019
Mr Hammond told the BBC he intends to tender his resignation to Theresa May before she goes to offer her own resignation to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
It is expected that he will be joined on the backbenches by several other Remainers, including Justice secretary David Gauke and Foreign Aid secretary Rory Stewart, who have already vowed to quit — a not inconsiderable problem for Johnson, who will be inheriting the leadership of a Tory parliamentary party which does not have an outright majority in the House of Commons as it is.
Mrs May has had to rely on Northern Ireland’s Brexit-supporting, socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for a slim Commons majority, which has frequently failed and would evaporate immediately if a sufficient number of Remain Tories began voting with the left-liberal opposition parties.
Very significant that Philip Hammond, David Gauke, Greg Glark & Rory Stewart abstained today. This is the nucleus of the group that will stop no deal – and end up stopping Brexit in the process, whatever they say now
— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) July 18, 2019