With the DUP currently refusing to vote with the Tories following grievances over the proposed Irish backstop, Theresa May’s party is having to try out life as a minority government. Piling on the pressure, DUP leader Arlene Foster has told the BBC that her party would have to revisit its confidence and supply deal with the Tories permanently if May’s Brexit deal passes through Parliament.
So, spare a thought for Philip Hammond. Spreadsheet Phil was given the task of being sent to DUP conference to charm attendees on behalf of the government. Mr S’s mole in the room reports that the Chancellor managed to crack a few jokes at the expense of his Tory colleagues.
On recent cabinet resignations:
‘I look around the room and I see some people I know. I see a lot of new faces. It’s a bit like going to a cabinet meeting these days.’
On the ERG coup that never was:
‘I’m told there are roughly 350 of you here, so if that’s Jacob Rees-Mogg counting there’s about 700.’
On Boris Johnson:
‘You have to be a realist if you’re in politics – and I know I’m only here as the warm-up act to Boris Johnson. I read in a paper that Boris charges 120,00 a speech now. So I’ve finally understood what he meant by the Brexit dividend. But having negotiated with the DUP myself, I suspect they may have negotiated a slightly better price than that.’
Hammond did hit a more serious note when it came to the issue of the backstop. He said his goal was to make sure the backstop agreement never comes into use. While his comments weren’t met with rapturous applause, Hammond did receive a warm reaction when he said socialism ought not sweep the UK.
Now over to Boris Johnson who takes to the stage on Saturday night…