Hammond cancels Mansion House 'warning shot'

Chancellor had been expected to use gala-dinner speech to warn Theresa May about dangers of a hard Brexit

Philip Hammond
Philip Hammond arrives in Downing Street
(Image credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Chancellor Philip Hammond has cancelled his annual address to City leaders following the Grenfell Tower fire.

"In view of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, I have withdrawn from giving the Mansion House speech tonight, " he tweeted. "My thoughts are with the local community."

A Treasury spokesman told the BBC Hammond would deliver his speech "in the near future".

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Earlier reports suggested the Chancellor was preparing to use the event to publicly criticise Theresa May's plans for a hard Brexit, just days before negotiations with Brussels begin. A leading figure in the Remain campaign, he has previously said he wants the UK to prioritise "jobs, prosperity and business" rather than control of immigration in discussions.

The Financial Times reports Hammond was going to push for a "significant transition period" to allow UK business to adapt to leaving the customs union and single market and to soften the Prime Minister's stance on immigration controls.

That the Chancellor felt emboldened to deliver such a speech is a sign of how the political landscape has changed since the general election.

"A week ago he faced the possibility of losing his job," says Bloomberg. "But since May instead lost her House of Commons majority, Hammond has emerged as a key figure in Brexit talks."

The FT adds: "After months of arguments and occasional humiliation at the hands of May and her team of advisers, Hammond is determined to reassert his authority on the Brexit process."

However, a senior Tory source told the Daily Mail the PM would face a wave a cabinet resignations if she bowed to his demands.

"There is a coordinated operation going on, led by Hammond, that is designed to destabilise the Prime Minister," they said. "What they are risking now is creating open warfare in the Tory Party."

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.