Hammond admits Brexit is holding back investments in UK

Remigio Civitarese
Luglio 17, 2017

PHILIP Hammond has pleaded with cabinet colleagues to stop undermining his bid for a pro-jobs Brexit after a spate of malevolent cabinet leaks exposed further the divisions within Theresa May's Government.

His outburst followed a report in The Sunday Times that he had told the weekly meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday that public sector workers were "overpaid" when their pensions were taken into account. He said they had been taken "out of context".

"Five weeks ago the idea of a transition period was quite a new concept, I think now you would find that pretty much everybody around the cabinet table accepts that there will be some kind of transition", he said.

Mr Hammond refused to be drawn on whether he said "overpaid" in an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr, but conceded that public sector workers get a 10% "premium" over the private sector.

"Cabinet meetings are supposed to be a private space when we are supposed to have serious discussions", Mr Hammond said.

Worldwide trade secretary Dr Liam Fox yesterday accused those of leaking as having "too much self-indulgence".

Endorsing a report by the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), released on Friday, which warned of the economic shock of increasing public spending, Hammond said: "This is a sober analysis of the challenge we continue to face, and a stark reminder of why we must deliver on our commitment to deal with our country's debts".

He blamed the anonymous briefing on those in the Cabinet unhappy with his Brexit stance, which includes potentially years of transitional arrangements between the United Kingdom and European Union after March 2019.

It comes after a series of reports accused Mr Hammond of saying that public sector staff were "overpaid" in a cabinet meeting.

This is despite the fact that wages have fallen by 14% in real terms since 2010, making it harder for the public sector to recruit and retain quality talent into the workforce.

"I do know, I think my colleague David Lidington who appeared on your show last week was probably spot on the money when he said we're in the middle of the silly summer season with lots of warm prosecco. lots of parties going on, lots of tittle tattle, lots of gossip, we've got a summer recess coming up". He said he was being attacked because of his views on Brexit.

His comments "will fuel public anger that the Tories are out of touch with the public mood and will plunge Tory MPs into despair at the Chancellor's political tin ear", says the Times.

Gus O'Donnell, Britain's former top public official, told the Observer newspaper the chances of a smooth Brexit were at risk of being derailed by squabbling ministers.

Asked whether Mrs May rejected the unnamed minister's claim that the Treasury was trying to undermine Brexit, the spokesman said: "I'm not getting into anonymous quotes".

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