Astonishing scenes at Mansion House tonight. Not the climate change protestors who interrupted Philip Hammond’s speech (though goodness knows how they got through the extraordinary security) but the Chancellor saying he will fight and fight again to prevent Boris Johnson going for a no-deal Brexit (though he did not name Johnson). He said:-
“I cannot imagine a Conservative and Unionist-led Government, actively pursuing a no-deal Brexit; willing to risk the Union and our economic prosperity, and a General Election that could put Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street, to boot.
And I will not concede the very ground we stand on. I will fight, and fight again, to remake the case for pragmatism and, yes, for compromise in our politics – to ensure an outcome that protects the Union and the prosperity of the United Kingdom.”
He was cheered to the rafters by the assembled bankers and brokers. This City audience only a few years ago would have been seen as the bedrock and foundation of the Tory party. Now big money feels detached and deserted by a Conservative party that is set to choose as its leader a former London mayor wedded to the kind of rupture from the EU viewed as inimical by many in the internationalist City. Strange times.
It feels like the end of an era – the City saying farewell to a Chancellor on its side who is about to be sacked, and also to a political settlement that put its interests first.