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Philip Hammond refuses to say how long Theresa May will remain Prime Minister

Chancellor criticises election campaign and says role was 'not the one I would have liked it to be'

Chris Baynes
Sunday 18 June 2017 17:23 BST
Philip Hammond refuses to answer question of how long Theresa May has got as PM

Philip Hammond dodged a question about Theresa May's future following claims the Prime Minister could face a leadership challenge.

The Chancellor refused to say how long he believes the Conservative leader will remain in Number 10 as he criticised the way the party's election campaign was run.

Mr Hammond admitted his role in the in the run-up the General Election, in which the Tories lost their Parliamentary majority, had not been the "one I would have liked it to be".

He told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "Yes, it's true that my role in the election campaign was not the one I would have liked it to be.

"I did a lot of travelling around the country. I met lots of very interesting people, I heard lots of interesting stories.

"I would have liked to have made much more of our economic record, which I think is an excellent one, creating 2.9 million new jobs, getting the deficit down by three quarters."

Asked if Mrs May's former aides Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill had kept him off the airwaves, he replied: "I'm not going to speculate about what happened inside the campaign leadership team.

"The end result is, in my judgment, we didn't talk about the economy as much as we should have done.

"We didn't put enough energy into dismantling Jeremy Corbyn's economic proposals and his spending plans, which would be catastrophic for this country and we will now do that."

A former minister warned on Sunday that Mrs May had only 10 days to put together a Queen’s Speech that will satisfy supporters of both hard and soft Brexit if she is to avoid a leadership challenge.

The PM has faced a barrage of criticism for her lacklustre response to the Grenfell Tower disaster, having already been under pressure over her fateful decision to call a snap election.

Asked how long Mrs May "has got" in number 10, the Chancellor replied: "I think what the country needs now is a period of calm while we get on with the job at hand. We've got some very serious issues to address including the Brexit negotiations just starting.

"Theresa is leading the Government and I think the Government needs to get on with its job. And do you know what, I think that's most people in this country will think - that the Government just needs to get on with the day job of government."

During an awkward campaign appearance with Mrs May, the PM refused to say Mr Hammond would remain in his post as he stood by her side.

Theresa May refuses to say she won't sack Philip Hammond as Chancellor after the election

The press conference at Canary Wharf had been staged to allow the Conservatives to attack Labour's economic plans, but after weeks of rumours that Mrs May was planning to sack the Chancellor, the pair face questions about their working relationship.

He remained low-profile for the rest of the campaign.

Mr Hammond insisted he had had been "not quite in a cupboard" over the course of the election.

He told ITV's Peston on Sunday: "I think it was a mistake of the campaign not to focus more on an area where we have a great story to tell; our record on the economy since the great recession."

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