Tory darling Jacob Rees-Mogg hinted today that Theresa May should fire her Chancellor to end Remain resistance inside the Cabinet.
Mr Rees-Mogg, the newly elected chairman of backbench Eurosceptic Tories, accused Philip Hammond of speaking out in defiance of official Brexit policy.
He admitted today he was ‘biting my tongue’ over the Chancellor’s future because only the PM could hire and fire in the Cabinet.
Mr Hammond enraged Eurosceptic backbenchers in Davos this week by talking up a ‘very modest’ Brexit that left Britain as close to Europe as possible.
Backbencher Nadine Dorries repeated her public calls for Mr Hammond to be fired today as pressure grew on the right of the party.
David Lidington, the newly installed Cabinet Office minister and Mrs May’s de facto deputy, appealed for calm this morning and said Tory MPs should show ‘mutual respect’.
The new clashes come against a febrile background and rumours of an imminent attempt to oust Mrs May as Tory leader and Prime Minister.
Former party chairman Grant Shapps said Mrs May should set a departure date or face being forced out.
Tory darling Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured on ITV today) had hinted that Theresa May should fire her Chancellor to end Remain resistance inside the Cabinet
Mr Rees-Mogg told ITV’s Robert Peston (pictured) he was ‘biting my tongue’ over the Chancellor’s future because only the PM could hire and fire in the Cabinet.
The new clashes come against a febrile background and rumours of an imminent attempt to oust Theresa May (pictured today in Maidenhead) as Tory leader and Prime Minister
Chancellor Philip Hammond enraged Eurosceptic backbenchers in Davos this week (Mr Hammond is pictured at the summit) by talking up a ‘very modest’ Brexit that left Britain as close to Europe as possible
Rumours are swirling around Westminster that Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, has received almost enough letters from backbench Tories to trigger a contest.
If 48 MPs independently write to Mr Brady he must call a leadership election. Only he knows how many letters he has received and he refuses to comment publicly.
Mr Rees-Mogg told Peston on Sunday: ‘I tend to disagree with the Chancellor on many things but on this issue he seems to be disagreeing with Government policy, the Conservative party’s manifesto and Mrs May’s speeches.
‘This is real trouble for the Government. The history of chancellors being in opposition to prime ministers is not a good one or an encouraging one.’
Asked whether he agreed with some pro-leave MPs that Mr Hammond should be fired, he said it was not him to direct the Prime Minister.
‘Of course I’ve got a view, but I think it’s not for me to give that view publicly. I think this really is a matter for the Prime Minister,’ he said.
‘I’m being as loyal as I could possibly be on the policy question and I am biting my tongue on the personality question.’
David Lidington, the newly installed Cabinet Office minister and Mrs May’s de facto deputy, appealed for calm this morning and said Tory MPs should show ‘mutual respect’
Ms Dorries said: ‘He has to go. The Chancellor needs to be singing off the Lancaster House hymn sheet along with the Prime Minister, he needs to have the Prime Minister’s back and he doesn’t.’
Former cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith told the Sunday Express: ‘The Prime Minister cannot govern with Philip Hammond sniping from the sidelines.
‘She has got a serious negotiation on and she does not need the Chancellor contradicting government policy. She needs to say to him: ‘You do that again and it will be your last comment as a cabinet minister’.’
Last night, an ambitious Tory MP tipped as a future leader added his voice to the chorus of disapproval – warning unless improvements were made Jeremy Corbyn would win the next Election.
Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We need to be doing better, or we will pay the price.’
Former Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps says that unless the Prime Minister announces a timetable for the end of her ‘uninspiring’ leadership, she could soon face a vote of no confidence
Mr Shapps reveals that several Tory MPs are this weekend sending letters to Sir Graham Brady, the Chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee, calling for a leadership contest.
Captain Mercer, a former Army captain who entered the Commons in 2015, warned that unless the Government’s performance improved the party could face electoral wipeout
Mr Shapps has not yet sent a letter himself, because he says he feared that a leadership contest would destabilise the Government.
But friends say that after Mrs May’s reshuffle earlier this month – notable for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s refusal to move jobs – Mr Shapps’ stance is shifting.
Writing in this newspaper, he says that Mrs May’s loss of authority was making it ‘excruciatingly difficult’ for her to ‘demand obedience from her own Cabinet’.
Captain Mercer, a former Army captain who entered the Commons in 2015, warned that unless the Government’s performance improved the party could face electoral wipeout.
The Afghanistan veteran said: ‘We need to be doing better, or we will pay the price with the electorate. We have to face down some of the very clear challenges on the NHS, housing and defence.’
Asked about Mrs May’s performance, he stopped short of calling for Mrs May to step down, saying: ‘I’m not going to comment on the Prime Minister.’ The botched reshuffle – and lack of clarity over Brexit – have stirred resentments on the backbenches among even normally loyal MPs.
Conservative former minister Rob Halfon, who was sacked by Mrs May, suggested the Government resembled a ‘tortoise’ because it was too slow to bring forward policies.
He told the World At One: ‘We need to have less policy-making by tortoise and (more) policy-making by lion. Because we have to be radical. We have to stop seeing politics in transactional terms.’
He added: ‘Unless we deal with social injustice, it won’t just be Labour that carries on getting a lot of support from the public, we will lose support from the public because they will feel that we don’t have an answer to the issues that they care about.’
Normally loyal Tory backbencher Nigel Mills said Mrs May has not delivered on her promises to tackle ‘burning injustices’ and that MPs are concerned about the Government’s lack of direction.
He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: ‘I think the frustration is the Prime Minister had what I thought was exactly the right drive and the right belief when she first came into office and it’s hard to see exactly how we’re making progress on that.
‘We need to show a sense of what our values are, where we’re going, where we want to get to, and if that timeframe has to be 18 months or two years to deliver something, well then that’s fine, we can explain why that is.’