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Prime Minister to 'remind' Cabinet ministers of need for privacy following leaks

17 July 2017

Hammond brushed off remarks by foreign minister Boris Johnson that the European Union could "go whistle" for its money, saying this was a direct reference to claims that Britain may be asked to pay up to 100 billion euros ($112 billion).

His comments regarding public sector workers being "overpaid" follow reports that he said driving a train was now so easy that "even" a woman could do it.

Mr Hammond was already booked onto The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, which gave him chance to come back fighting.

"On many fronts it would be helpful if my colleagues - all of us - focused on the job in hand".

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".

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And when he tried to dig himself out of the embarrassing hole, he was interrupted by Mrs May, who said: "Chancellor, I am going to take your shovel away from you".

"Public and private sector pay are on average around about the same level", he said. "Did the Chancellor say 'public sector workers were overpaid?'".

Hammond's confidence in the consensus over such an arrangement, whereby there would be a longer period to negotiate the terms of leaving than the two year period offered by triggering Article 50, comes after new meetings between business and government commenced.

"We're into a real process now with the start of negotiations and I think you'll find the cabinet rallying around a position that maximises our negotiating leverage and gets the best possible deal for Britain".

He acknowledged, however, he had made the point during the discussion that public sector workers enjoyed a 10 per cent pension "premium" over their private sector counterparts.

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Another minister, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, attacked the "self-indulgence" of those doing the leaking, adding that it had left Tory backbenchers "furious".

Taken together, the stories appear to be evidence of a concerted campaign of negative briefing against Mr Hammond, who is widely regarded as the most senior Remain supporter in the Cabinet and has has sometimes been treated with suspicion by Leave-supporting colleagues. "It has a timetable to it and you can't afford for that timetable to be broken into by a Conservative leadership election, so we have to get through that first and foremost".

"The care worker hurrying from house to house doesn't feel overpaid, nor does the hospital cleaner working round the clock, or the teaching assistant going the extra mile for the children she supports", she said.

'Later in the meeting both Boris Johnson and the PM said we should not say public sector workers are overpaid'.

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Prime Minister to 'remind' Cabinet ministers of need for privacy following leaks