Brexit: Michael Gove hits out at Philip Hammond in leaked letter which blames treasury for Lords defeat

'The short-sightedness of the Treasury has now led to an entirely predictable and avoidable defeat'

David Hughes
Wednesday 23 May 2018 00:43 BST
Michael Gove arrives in Downing Street
Michael Gove arrives in Downing Street (Reuters)

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Fresh Cabinet tensions over Brexit have been exposed in a leaked letter in which Michael Gove hits out at Philip Hammond, blaming the Treasury for a defeat in the House of Lords.

The Environment Secretary accused the Treasury of "short-sightedness" which had led to an "avoidable" Lords defeat for the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

Peers voted to force the Government to maintain EU environmental principles and standards after Brexit, the 15th defeat suffered during the Bill's passage through the Lords.

In the letter to Cabinet colleagues, which was obtained by The Daily Telegraph, Mr Gove pinned the blame for the defeat on the Chancellor's department.

The newspaper reported Mr Hammond blocked plans to give a new post-Brexit environmental watchdog the power to impose fines on the Government and local authorities if they fail to meet targets on boosting recycling and cutting pollution.

In the letter Mr Gove wrote: "The short-sightedness of the Treasury has now led to an entirely predictable and avoidable defeat on the EU Withdrawal Bill and inflicted a damaging blow to the Government's environmental credentials."

The Government will face a battle to reverse the 15 defeats suffered in the Lords when the legislation returns to the Commons within the next few weeks.

The Telegraph reported Mr Gove warned that ministers would have to make "significant concessions" to overturn the amendment, including giving the new green watchdog the power to take the Government to court and issue fines.

He added ministers "cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of recent weeks and have the Government's environmental credibility further undermined".

A Treasury source told the newspaper: "It is clearly wrong to blame the Treasury for this. Philip has worked closely with Michael to support the Government's environmental agenda, including on plans for a plastic waste tax."

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